Carroo gives versatility to RU offense
Leonte Carroo is all about staying involved whenever he is on the field.
So when little opportunities to have the ball in his hands were presented Saturday against Norfolk State, he found other ways to pitch in. That included having a role in the running game as well as special teams.
It is what makes the sophomore receiver one of the most versatile athletes on the Rutgers football team’s roster.
“He’s one of our playmakers that we have and he has a gift,” said junior wide receiver Brandon Coleman. “He’s been able to utilize that talent in those two phases of the game. For him to have a big game on those two sides of the ball, I think that will increase our chances of winning.”
With the Scarlet Knights run game dictating the game against the Spartans — sophomore P.J. James and junior Savon Huggins combined for 215 yards rushing — junior quarterback Gary Nova only attempted 21 passes.
That left Carroo with just one catch for 22 yards, a third-down reception which gave the Knights a first down at the end of the first half.
Carroo’s production was a 180 from his receiving debut against Fresno State, where the Edison, N.J., native registered five catches for 135 yards and three scores.
The variation in involvement in the receiving game did not bother Carroo for the simple fact he has other responsibilities than catching the ball.
“You try not to think about it at all,” Carroo said. “Obviously I had a pretty good game against Fresno. If people look at the stats they’ll probably think, ‘Wow, Carroo didn’t do that much.’ … What people don’t get to see is that I did a good job blocking for our running backs downfield and things like that.”
Carroo said he was able to cut off safeties and other defensive backs, which allowed James and Huggins to get to the second level.
So if the ball does not find its way into Carroo’s hands, he has no problems with it.
“You might not get the ball as a receiver, but linemen have to deal with not getting the ball all the time and they block for the quarterbacks and the running backs,” Carroo said. “The running backs pick up blitz just so we can get open in our routes, so I don’t mind blocking for a whole entire game.”
Carroo was also close to getting his second-career punt block, which he just missed against Norfolk State. He is also a member of both kickoff and kick return teams.
The added versatility will benefit Rutgers against next opponent, Eastern Michigan, who the Knights have never faced before.
“I would say the biggest difference slash challenge of it would be the lack of familiarity with the personnel. That’s really the biggest difference,” said head coach Kyle Flood. “You’re watching it on film and it’s a league that we did play a team last year. But we don’t play a team from that league every year. So there’s not a lot of familiarity with who the personnel is.”
Carroo will resume his duties all over the field this Saturday against the Eagles.
When it comes to playing an offensive role, he knows an opportunity can arise at any time.
“You never know what play it’s going to be,” Carroo said. “So you always have to just be confident and always ready for the ball.”
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