One benefit of a blowout win over an FCS opponent is the opportunity for Rutgers to get younger players reps during game action. In Saturday’s 52-3 win over Wagner, Rutgers was able to get many players who seldom see time right now the chance to get game reps. Many of the true freshman were able to register their first statistics of their career. In addition, there were a few rookies who continued to build on solid freshman campaigns.
Saw some younger players in the fourth quarter. That’s always good,” Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano said after the win. “We have some really talented young guys. We’ve just got to develop them.”
Here is a complete summary of which freshmen made contributions on Saturday.
The rookie running back had another good game with seven carries for 57 yards and a touchdown. He’s averaging 4.4 yards per carry and has totaled 159 yards rushing, a 33 yard catch and two touchdowns in four games as a true freshman. The future is bright for the 5’9″ sparkplug from Pahokee, Florida.
With Rutgers up big in the fourth quarter and backup quarterback Evan Simon listed as questionable entering the game, rookie Ajani Sheppard led Rutgers on the final drive of the game. Sheppard represented well. He completed both pass attempts for 23 yards and had one rush for 10 yards. The drive ended on an Aaron Young touchdown run. It was a nice collegiate debut for Sheppard, who Rutgers hopes can develop long term.
Maybe it’s hard to remember that Strong is in his first season because of his first catch was so impressive, but he continues to work his way into the receiver rotation. After his touchdown against Northwestern, Strong didn’t register a catch his next two games. After an 18 yard reception against Michigan, Strong followed it up with a 17 yard grab on Saturday. It was another highlight reel worthy catch getting a foot inbounds. His ceiling is very high and he’s working his way into becoming a reliable target long term.
One of three true freshmen to make their first career reception in the win over Wagner. The 5’10” Braithwaite made a nice 10 yard grab from Sheppard to get into the red zone. Hopefully its the first of many to come for the New York state native.
The 6’2″ freshman caught a 7 yard pass from Gavin Wimsatt on the second drive of the game. He has a ton of potential and has fought through a minor injury that kept him out of last week’s game. Great to see him get an early opportunity and register the first catch of his career.
The 6’4″ brother of Mo Toure arguably has the highest ceiling of any of the freshman receivers. He made a 13 yard reception including 4 yards after the catch on the final drive. He also has battled a minor injury and it was great to see him show up on the stat sheet for the first time.
Also a wide receiver, Fuse made a special teams tackle on the last kickoff of the game. That’s how you find a role and get noticed even if its not within his own position group. He played until the last whistle and that’s a good sign for a young player.
The Florida linebacker made a tackle along with Timmy Ward on a third and seven to force a Wagner punt late in the game. Wright could be a fixture in the middle of the defense for Rutgers in the future.
The long snapper from Texas has been solid all season and as all players in his position, he hopes he doesn’t get mentioned much the rest of the year.
In addition, two true freshman made their collegiate debuts on Saturday. They were defensive lineman Djibril Abdou Rahman and wide receiver Deondre Johnson.
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