Receivers feature speed
The only time Leonte Carroo found the field during his rookie campaign was on special teams.
Graduation and injuries have allowed the 6-foot-1-inch sophomore to collect more reps at his more natural position, wide receiver — a move he is perfectly fine with.
“This year, we had two pretty good receivers graduate, so pretty much the only two receivers with experience is [senior] Quaron Pratt and [junior] Brandon Coleman,” Carroo said. “So, it gives me more of a shot to show the coaches how I can compete and also my speed.”
Carroo represents the different look the Rutgers football team will have at wideout — a unit that sacrifices height for elusiveness.
Former Scarlet Knights Mark Harrison and Tim Wright last season stood at 6 feet 3 inches, and 6 feet 4 inches, respectively. Their size allowed junior quarterback Gary Nova to get away with higher throws.
Junior wideout Brandon Coleman, the Knights’ returning receiver with 718 yards last season, towers over secondaries with his 6-foot-6-inch frame.
But Coleman is sidelined this spring because of minor knee surgery he underwent after last season, allowing for the smaller and less experienced players to get more reps.
“It’s always good to get extra reps,” said Pratt. “It helps you learn more about the defense and everyone else along with learning more about the offense.”
Besides Coleman, only two receivers who recorded a reception last season return to the offense, as Pratt and junior Miles Shuler had 22 and five catches, respectively.
Shuler stands at 5 feet 10 inches, while Pratt stands at 6 feet — a drastic change in height from what the Knights were accustomed to last season.
While Wright and Harrison gave Nova and the rest of the offense the luxury of size, the smaller core of receivers will provide a different element.
“We bring speed,” Carroo said. “Mark was a great receiver, and Tim was a great receiver, but this wide-receiver group that we have, we bring a shifty side with guys you can get the ball and turn it up field and score touchdowns.”
That was featured in yesterday’s practice, as the long ball was traded in for intermediate routes that allowed for the receivers to use more of their speed to get open.
Practice also showed the amount of reps available for a group that is looking for someone to emerge behind Pratt and Shuler.
Carroo and redshirt freshman Ruhann Peele have benefited the most from the lack of experience as receivers, since both have been lining up with the first team offense in spring drills.
And head coach Kyle Flood sees no difference in the competition at receiver as he does at any other position — with the spring being more of an audition for who will get first-team reps, come mini camp in the summer.
His sample size from that group — unlike years past — will be on the smaller side in terms of height.
“I wouldn’t just limit it to them,” Flood said yesterday after practice. “I think all of our young players on the team [are] trying to show us what their role can be, what kind of impact they can have on the team. Certainly, at the positions where there is more openings due to graduation — like the secondary and at receiver, I think that shows up a little bit more.”
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