Rutgers Preview 2006 - Offense
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Preview 2006 - RU Offense
What you need to know ...
The Rutgers attack turned perfectly balanced last season
and should be so again with a great backfield led by fullback
Brian Leonard and speedy Ray Rice to go along with the potential
for a good passing game thanks to the return of tight end Clark
Harris. There are question marks from the depth on the offensive
line to the lack of a proven number one wide receiver to the
need of Mike Teel and/or Jabu Lovelace to emerge at quarterback,
but this should still be one of the Big East's most productive
Passing: Mike Teel
51-101, 683 yds, 2 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: Ray Rice
195 carries, 1,120 yds, 5 TD
Receiving: Brian Leonard
55 catches, 568 yds, 6 TD
Star of the offense: Senior FB Brian Leonard
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore
QB Mike Teel and/or Redshirt freshman QB Jabu Lovelace
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Tiquan Underwood
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Clark Harris
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Harris, 2) Leonard, 3)
RB Ray Rice
Strength of the offense: Running backs, tight ends
Weakness of the offense: Proven number one wide receiver,
offensive line depth
It'll be a battle to replace Ryan Hart between two
promising options. Mike Teel was thrown to the wolves when the
offense was struggling and showed a few flashes of potential
along with giving up a ton of interceptions. Jabu Lovelace is a
do-it-all quarterback with the athleticism and makeup to be the
leader of the offense for the next four years if he gets the
starting nod. At the very least, both quarterbacks will see
The key to the unit: The young quarterbacks have to
avoid as many mistakes as possible while growing in the offense.
However, they can't be afraid to not go for the big play.
Quarterback Rating: 6
- Mike Teel, Soph. - 51-101, 683 yds, 50.5%, 2 TD, 10 INT
The 6-4, 220-pound sophomore with a live arm and great upside.
He even has a little bit of experience filling in when Ryan Hart
got hurt and seeing time in nine games with mixed results.
Interceptions were the big problem with four games with two
picks and ten overall to go with two touchdown passes; chalk
that up to inexperience and trying to do too much. He has all the tools to be great with
far more mobility than Hart to go along with his big arm.
- Jabulani Lovelace, RFr.
Don't count Lovelace out of the starting race just because Mike
Teel has more experience. He's a hard worker and a tremendous
athlete adding another dimension to the attack with his rushing
skills. Now he needs experience and time in the system, which
he'll get. The coaching staff has hinted that there might be a
The emergence of Ray Rice was one of the keys to the team's
success. It settled the tailback situation and allowed Brian
Leonard to be Brian Leonard and do all the fullback things he
does. The senior can be a workhorse for the running attack and
is the perfect outlet receiver out of the backfield. Now the
team needs to develop more tailbacks needing Dimitri Linton to
be healthy and to find someone who can take over for Leonard
The key to the unit: Continue to get the same
production out of the backfield with Brian Leonard the do-it-all
weapon and Ray Rice the main speed runner while finding some new
talented to take some of the pressure off.
Running Back Rating: 8.5
- Ray Rice, Soph. - 195 carries, 1,120 yds, 5.7 ypc, 5
TD, 8 catches, 65 yds, 9.1 ypc
Rice turned in a fantastic true freshman season leading the team
in highlighted by a 217-yard day against Connecticut and a
195-yard day against Cincinnati. He's a quick back who bursts
through the hole and is able to crank out big yards in chunks.
More physical than his 5-9, 195-pound size, he's not afraid to
take a big hit. With his athleticism and home-run hitting
ability, he needs to be used more in the passing game.
- Fullback Brian Leonard, Sr. - 173 carries, 740 yds, 4.3
ypc, 11 TD, 55 catches, 568 yds, 10.3 ypc, 3 TD
One of the nation's best all-around offensive players, the 6-2,
235-pound Leonard is back for his fourth year as a key cog in
the Rutgers offense. He has 2,352 career rushing yards with 27
touchdowns to go along with 1,574 receiving yards and 13 more
scores, and he can block. Not only a bruising
between-the-tackles runner, Leonard has the speed to break off
big gains and makes plays on the outside.
- Dimitri Linton, Soph.
Linton saw a little bit of time as a true freshman rushing for
40 yards, but missed all of last year after getting hurt in fall
practices. He has the talent and the speed to quickly grow into
a major player behind Ray Rice. He's a tough 5-9 and 195 pounds.
- Jean Beljour, Jr.
While not a true fullback, the 218-pound junior is a physical
back who could see time as a blocker to go along with his
special teams duties. He's a good enough athlete to potentially
be used as a receiver out of the backfield.
Several receivers needs to step up their
games. Clark Harris is an all-star tight end joining fullback
Brian Leonard as the two most reliable targets, and now a wide
receiver has to emerge as a deep threat, number one guy. Shawn
Tucker has the experience, but he hasn't been explosive so far.
Even so, he'll be the main man until someone else emerges.
Tiquan Underwood has the potential to be the team's best
playmakers, while Willie Foster and Marcus Daniels have to come
up with big senior seasons.
The key to the unit: A consistent deep threat needs
to emerge and Shawn Tucker has to be a five-catch-a-game type of
Receiver Rating: 6.5
- Shawn Tucker, Sr. - 32 catches, 48 4yds, 15.1 ypc, 1 TD
Tucker returned from a groin injury to be the number two wide
receiver behind Tres Moses. He's a steady target with good size
and nice hands. Now he has to be the main man in the passing
game with Moses gone and has to be more of a scoring threat
considering he only has four career touchdowns and didn't get in
the end zone over the final nine games of last year. He has been
very good, now he has to be great.
- Willie Foster, Sr. - 8 catches, 129 yds, 16.1 ypc
The team's top return man has to grow into the role of a deep
threat. Speed isn't the issue with some of the best jets on the
team, but he has to prove he can handle the workload after being
used sparingly last season. He's dangerous enough to be used
occasionally as a runner and on end arounds. In other words, the
coaching staff will look to find ways to get the ball in his
- Tight end Clark Harris, Sr. - 38 catches, 584 yds, 15.4
ypc, 4 TD
The two-time All-Big East performer is back as one of the
nation's better receiving tight ends and a should up his already
considerable draft stock even more. He's 6-6 and 255 pounds with
great route-running ability and soft hands catching 109 passes
over the last three seasons. He has developed into a dependable
- Marcus Daniels, Sr. - 5 catches, 101 yds, 20.2 ypc,
Daniels was a pure possession receiver as a sophomore and then
averaged 20.2 yards per catch last season helped by a 55-yard
score against Illinois. He was phased out of the rotation as the
season went on being used mostly as a special teamer, but now
he'll be the third man in the rotation playing behind Shawn
- Tiquan Underwood, Soph. - 4 catches, 47 yds, 11.8 ypc
A speedy deep threat with tremendous athleticism, the 6-2,
175-pound sophomore should soon be the team's most dangerous
receiver. He's not physical, but he's a blur in open space.
Expect him to push Willie Foster for a starting spot.
- Tight end Sam Johnson, Sr. - 9 catches, 76 yds, 8.4 ypc,
Johnson has grown into a perfect number two tight end behind
Clark Harris and a bruiser for the ground game. He's a big-time
250-pound blocker with great hands around the goal line with
three of his nine catches going for touchdowns.
One of the Big East's best lines has to patching to do
losing all-star guard John Glass and tackle Sameeh McDonald from a group
that allowed a mere 19 sacks and paved the way for close to 2,000
rushing yards. Pedro Sosa and Jeremy Zuttah are rising stars at tackle,
while Darnell Stapleton is a steady rock at center. The guards will be a
little shaky early on needing former defensive lineman Cameron
Stephenson to shine right away, and there's little to no depth anywhere.
Backup center is a big issue.
The key to the unit: The tackles have to take another
step forward in their consistency. Depth is needed everywhere.
Offensive Line Rating: 7
- OT Pedro Sosa, Jr.
Sosa will make an All-Big East before his career is over. He's 6-5 and
300 pounds with long arms and good feet in pass blocking. He's a
physical blocker who'll be the team's main man up front now that John
Glass has graduated.
- OG Mike Fladell, Jr.
The 6-8, 318-pound junior saw a little bit of starting time last season
at left guard filling in for an injured Jeremy Zuttah, and he can also
play tackle if needed. He'll step to an open spot next to Pedro Sosa and
should be a strong run blocker from day one.
- C Darnell Stapleton, Sr.
Stapleton turned into one of last year's biggest surprises starting from
game one and turning into a reliable man in the middle. The 305-pound
former JUCO transfer is athletic enough to see time at tackle if needed.
He's great on the move.
- OG Cameron Stephenson, Sr.
The former defensive lineman is moving over to the offensive side to try
to fill in John Glass's former spot. He started out his career on the
offensive side getting a little bit of starting experienced before
moving to help fill the void at tackle.
- OT Jeremy Zuttah, Jr.
Easily the line's most versatile player, the 6-4, 290-pound junior was
the main man at left guard last year and now will move to tackle. He's a
physical run blocker with the potential to be a special pass protector.
- G Mike Gilmartin, Soph.
One of the few reserves with any experience, the 6-6, 285-pound
sophomore got one start and saw time in three games. He'll start out
backing up Cameron Stephenson, but he could play either guard spot.
- T Carl Howard, Soph.
At 6-4 and 300 pounds, Howard has the size to grow into a productive
tackle. The former Virginia Tech Hokie is also a former defensive
lineman who's still learning the ropes after moving over to offense
where he struggled with a broken foot last season.