June 19, 2018 | ° F

Sophomore impresses in first start of career

Photo by Tian Li |

Junior Leonte Carroo said the receiving group needs to step up, including himself, while two key players are inactive.

As a true freshman last season, John Tsimis played sparingly during the campaign while appearing in five games for the Rutgers football team. The wide receiver caught only four balls for 56 yards with two receptions against both Houston and UCF.

Last Thursday night against Washington State, with sophomore wide receivers Ruhann Peele and Andre Patton both inactive, Tsimis earned his first career start. 

The increased playing time paid dividends for the Scarlet Knights.

With nearly 11 minutes left in the game and the Knights trailing the Cougars, 31-27, Tsimis kept running on a play where he wasn’t the first option, according to junior wide receiver Leonte Carroo.

Photo: Tian Li

Sophomore receiver John Tsimis stood out with smart plays and quality routes.

“On John’s touchdown, that ball is really not supposed to come to him,” Carroo said. “But he didn’t take a play off. He played fast and he got rewarded for it.”

The end result of not giving up on the play allowed Tsimis to score his first touchdown at Rutgers on a career-long 29-yard reception. 

Senior quarterback Gary Nova said the route combination also helped Tsimis on the scoring play.

“[Tsimis] did a good job of staying wide when the corner jumped Tyler [Kroft] and kind of just left him running down the sideline,” Nova said. “All I had to do was put a good ball on him because he ran a good route.”

Starting his first game was huge after coming off of a small role in his true freshman year, Tsimis said. Now the Harrington Park, N.J., native intends to build on the momentum.

“It was a big opportunity for me getting a chance to start my first game,” Tsimis said. “I was just going out there focused and making sure I did my job on every play to make the most of it. I’m just trying to build off of that this week.”

From breaking down film and what he noticed in practice, Nova pointed out a few things that separate Tsimis from other young players. 

“There’s no mistakes [with John Tsimis],” Nova said. “It’s just a guy out there who is a smart player who is going to be in the right place at the right time. At receiver we have had some injuries, so for him to step up and do the things he is doing is great for us.”

With Peele and Patton inactive again for Saturday’s home opener against Howard, it is a foregone conclusion that someone in the wide receiver group will have to step up again. 

Carroo admits that in the second half against WSU he saw more double teams and safeties rolled over to account for his six catches for 151 yards and a touchdown. 

With opposing secondary’s honoring Carroo, that leaves sophomore Janarion Grant and Tsimis – the starters alongside Carroo against the Cougars – left to pick up the slack along with senior Andrew Turzilli and sophomore Carlton Agudosi.

Carroo agrees that making up for lost production starts with him as the Knights’ top receiver and the leader of the group.

“Yes, definitely, especially me,” Carroo said of having to step up as a group at wide receiver. “I’m the guy that my team and these younger guys look at to make a play, especially now that we have a little bit of depth at receiver. If those other guys can’t get the job done, it ultimately looks back on me to get the job done. I have to go out there and play and lead this young wide receiver corps.”

For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @TylerKaralewich and @TargumSports on Twitter.

Tyler Karalewich

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