Football: Former backup receives chance to shine
Miles Shuler spent two seasons waiting.
He looked on as former wide receivers Mohamed Sanu, Mark Harrison and Tim Wright soaked up the bulk of the Rutgers football team’s receptions.
Now with those players no longer on the roster, the junior wideout sees an opportunity for the younger receivers to make their mark on the program, just as their predecessors did.
“I feel that some people have to step up,” Shuler said. “People have to come up and be leaders of the receiver group.”
Shuler, though, has more in common with Sanu than with players like Wright or Harrison when it comes to physical stature.
Sanu is the closest to Shuler in size, but still listed as four inches taller. Shuler’s lack of height, combined with his speed, lend him to be more of an inside receiver rather than running down the field opposite the team’s No. 1 receiver, junior Brandon Coleman.
That is exactly what junior quarterback Gary Nova expects from him.
“I think this year we’ll probably use Miles as a slot receiver,” Nova said. “He’ll be able to use his speed on the linebackers and really be a weapon in there.”
As a state title winner in the 100- and 55-meter dash in high school, Shuler has the ability to outrun most defenders he will face on the inside.
Nova said Shuler’s quickness is something during the season he looks forward to enjoying.
But for Shuler, that is not an issue. He sees himself as running any route in any spot he needs to.
“It doesn’t matter to me [where I am],” Shuler said. “Football is football. It doesn’t matter.”
But he already had one setback this spring.
A minor leg injury forced Shuler to miss some time, giving way to other young receivers such as sophomore Leonte Carroo and redshirt freshmen Ruhann Peele and Carlton Agudosi.
In the meantime, Shuler has begun to work back in during practice, but head coach Kyle Flood remains cautious.
“He hasn’t really been back healthy for a couple days,” Flood said. “He’s been out there and he’s been working his way toward being healthy. Today was probably the most I’ve seen him practice in about a week and a half, although he didn’t take all the reps he would normally take [today] either.”
Not yet 100 percent, Shuler still eyes the upcoming season, when he will likely become one of the top receiving options opposite Coleman.
He earned five receptions last season for 71 yards and one carry for 25 yards in addition to one punt and kick return.
Shuler has the potential to exceed that per game, but for that to happen he needs to stay on the field.
Former Athletic Director Tim Pernetti was a frequent visitor to the Scarlet Knights’ football practice.
Interim Athletic Director Carl Kirschner picked up where Pernetti left off, attending yesterday’s practice.
Kirschner is currently special counsel for academic programs in the Office of the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and formerly the dean of Rutgers College.
He was also formerly the chair of Academic Oversight Committee for Intercollegiate Athletics.
Flood said following practice that every vibe he has received in his discussions with Kirschner has been positive.
“He certainly has an intimate relationship with our program,” Flood said of Kirschner. “He meets every one of our recruits personally, and he’s a big part of our recruiting weekend. I think his familiarity with our players will serve us well.”
For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow Joey Gregory on Twitter @joey_gregory. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.