September 21, 2018 | ° F

Football: Senior continues adjustment back to tight end

Photo by Tian Li |

Senior Paul Carezzola returned to the tight end position during spring practice after spending the majority of 2012 at fullback. He is one of only four tight ends to get reps in spring practice, now that junior fullback Michael Burton is healthy.

When junior fullback Michael Burton went down with a leg injury Sept. 25 against Arkansas, it left Rutgers head football coach Kyle Flood with a tough decision.

Keep Paul Carrezola at his natural position of tight end or utilize the senior’s blocking abilities at fullback to supplement Burton’s absence.

Flood elected to do the latter, limiting the Langhorne, Pa., native’s role on the offense to paving running lanes.

Carrezola is back at tight end this spring, though he said it has not been a completely seamless transition back to the position he played since his days at Neshaminy (Pa.) High School.

“It feels good, but it is an adjustment again because I didn’t really do much of it last year,” Carrezola said. “I don’t want to say its normal, but it feels better to be there.”

Junior quarterback Gary Nova has seen the flip-flopping Carrezola has done since Nova has been at Rutgers, as he has gone from tight end to H-back to last season’s role as fullback.

Carrezola had eight receptions last season as he split time between the two positions, collecting 45 yards with a touchdown grab in Rutgers’ 35-26 victory against the Razorbacks. In his three-year career, he has 14 career receptions for two scores.

Nova is glad Carrezola is back from his blocking role in the backfield, as Nova can now get him the ball more.

“When Burton went down, Paul had to take the role, but I think it is better for him now,” Nova said. “I think he is in his natural habitat.”

The move back to tight end was also essential for Flood, as there are currently just four tight ends seeing reps during spring camp.

Carrezola joins junior Tyler Kroft, senior Tyler Bellia and newly converted senior Michael Larrow as Nova’s check-down options.

Kroft is the only one out of the three with a reception in his college career— he hauled in three grabs for 59 yards and a score Oct. 13 at home against Syracuse.

Flood wants to see more from the group during tomorrow’s scrimmage.

“I think we are building a little bit of depth, and I think we needed to,” Flood said. “Certainly Paul Carrezola and Tyler Kroft have a résumé to at least look at ... Saturday will tell us a little bit more to how close we are to add to that depth and to give those other guys an opportunity to say ‘hey, who is going to be the play makers?’”

Carrezola, Kroft and the rest of the unit have to deal with a new tight ends coach as well as Ron Prince, the Knights’ first-year offensive coordinator.

After serving last year as a defensive assistant, Anthony Campanile will have the duties of the tight ends coach, developing reliable targets coming off of the line.

But it is Prince who Carrezola will have to get more used to.

“From what I’ve seen now, it’s a lot of different rules,” Carrezola said of his new offensive coordinator. “He puts us wherever on the field and we do what he asks us. It’s just another offensive coordinator. We just have to take what he says, and take his coaching and try to execute what he gives us.”

It will take the rest of spring and summer camp for Carrezola to adjust back to his old role and for depth to develop for the short-handed group.

Nova is optimistic they can make it happen.

“They’re doing a great job,” Nova said. “We only have four of them, but they are doing a nice job and taking a lot of reps. They have a lot of things to learn, but they are doing the best they can and doing a great job.”

For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow Bradly Derechailo on Twitter @Bradly_D. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @targumsports.

By Bradly Derechailo

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