July 18, 2018 | ° F

Kroft takes reins from Carrezola

Photo by Shirley Yu |

Sophomore tight end Tyler Kroft will make his first career start Saturday.

When Tyler Kroft glanced at the depth chart earlier this week, it was a bittersweet moment for the sophomore tight end.

Head coach Kyle Flood named Kroft to the starting lineup for Saturday’s home opener against Norfolk State.

But it came at the expense of Kroft’s good friend Paul Carrezola, a senior tight end who is a game-time decision with a lower body injury sustained Thursday against Fresno State.

“I hate to see it, and I know Paul has worked out so much,” Kroft said. “We’re really good friends, but I guess it’s just the nature of the game and how it is.”

Photo: Shirley Yu

Junior quarterback Gary Nova said it is important to get both sophomore tight end Tyler Kroft and senior tight end Paul Carrezola on the field together.

Kroft knows what Carrezola is dealing with.

Kroft was sidelined for most of training camp with a high ankle sprain, while Carrezola took a majority of the first-team reps. It was only toward the back end of the preseason when Kroft was able to work back in with the first-team offense.

“He’s a good athlete, so when he came back, he kind of just jumped right in there,” said junior quarterback Gary Nova. “He’s still missing some details on routes and stuff you get just with time and getting reps, so it’s exciting to see him running around again.”

But Nova said it is also important to get Carrezola back and both have not been on the field at the same time consistently enough early in the season.

For now, as long as one of them is ready to go, Flood will put all of his focus on getting them involved and ready.

“I think you better have depth at every position and that’s really what separates teams,” Flood said. “As you go through the season, we’re not the only team that’s dealing with guys that are dinged up and banged up. Every team is dealing with that to a certain degree. This week Paul’s down and Tyler’s up. So my focus is on Tyler while he’s out there.”

Saturday will also be Kroft’s first wcareer start for the Scarlet Knights, and he is sure to see more opportunities come his way when it comes to more involvement in offensive coordinator Ron Prince’s tight end-friendly play calls.

“I’ll hopefully be up there a lot more,” Kroft said. “Last game I had about 30 snaps, this game I’ll be taking a lot more snaps this week. I know Coach [Flood] is trying to work in some other tight ends, so we’ll see how it plays out.”

Kroft appeared in 11 games last season for the Knights. In his first game this season, he registered one reception for a seven-yard gain.

But he knows Saturday’s appearance is a goal he has envisioned since he arrived in Piscataway two seasons ago.

And while it comes at another teammate’s expense, he knows how important it is to take advantage with his added role in the offense.

“It’s a huge opportunity,” Kroft said. “I know I have to crack down on knowing all the plays, knowing all of the assignments and making sure I make the most of it.”

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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