Coaching staff expects big things from Rashad Rochelle
A big part of spring camp for Rutgers is installing a new system under offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca. It’s a developmental period for the entire offense that includes a different coach at each position group. Getting every offensive player integrated and comfortable in the new offense is crucial.
Obviously quarterback play and cohesion along the offensive line is critical to the success of the offense. However, another key is identifying and developing playmakers.
Last week, new offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca commented on Rashad Rochelle as a returning player that is poised to assume a larger role next season.
“I’m pretty sure Train’s going to become a very good wide receiver,” OC Kirk Ciarrocca said of Rochelle on Thursday. “I really am. I see that skillset in him. Again, he’s in great hands with the coaches that are around him. With him, as I watch him move around, it’s not if he’s going to be a good player and productive for us. It’s just when. He’s done a great job putting in the work so far.”
With the receiver position wide open after all three starters gone following graduation, opportunity is knocking for Rochelle. New receivers coach Dave Brock has mentored many great wideouts in his career. He sees a lot of potential in the sophomore from Illinois.
“Rochelle’s a good guy with the ball in his hands,” Brock said. “You could see he’s got some quickness and toughness and he has some versatility in terms of what he did last year. It’s always exciting to work with somebody who’s got kind of a multiple skillset, he’s got some position flexibility, and he’s a really, really hard worker and a terrific kid.”
As for how Brock sees Rochelle excelling in the offense, the coach explained it’s a process with every player.
“I have coached some really good players and I wouldn’t say anybody was ‘the same.’ So for me, it’s fun,” Brock said. “What’s the skillset? What is going to allow us to do? What does Kirk [Ciarrocca] really want to do? How does he want to do it? Who is going to be capable of doing that the best? And then find a way to train the player to do that.”
Rochelle was a player Brock identified as having potential to make plays even before Spring camp began. Seeing how he was showcased on film last season tipped him off.
“I go back to production,” Brock explained. “He played running back. He played receiver. I saw him in some Wildcat snaps. He returned punts so in my mind, and I’m evaluating — I look at that and say ‘okay, here’s a guy that they were trying to figure out how to touch the ball.’ So how can I create a way to make some of those opportunities and then train him to be a functional player at the position because right now he’s a receiver.”
As for his progress so far this spring, Brock was positive.
”He’s done a really nice job. He’s athletic. He has body quickness. He’s toughness — all the things you’d expect from someone who carries the ball.”
Rochelle brings athleticism and big play ability to the Rutgers offense. His versatility will be an asset for Ciarrocca and Brock. Their expertise in getting the most out of players will be critical in getting maximum production from Rochelle next season. Having played last fall is something Brock thinks can serve as a jumping off point for him.
“He’s going to make plays and have genuine confidence in terms of what he’s doing and how he’s doing it,” explained Brock. “I’ve enjoyed it and now I’m just trying to build onto what he’s done and see what he’s really going to be good at. This is phase 1. Then you move onto the summer. We got a long way and a lot of football until we kick things off.”
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