Rutgers reinstates Flood, junior wide receiver discusses playing time
After three weeks away from the sidelines and the podium, Rutgers head football coach Kyle Flood made his first public comments Monday afternoon since receiving his full reinstatement from President Robert L. Barchi a day earlier on Sunday.
“I’d like to start by thanking Dr. Barchi for this opportunity to not only return to the podium, but return to game day this Saturday, a day that I’m looking forward to,” Flood said in his opening statement.
Flood, who served a three-game suspension with a $50,000 fine after findings from a University investigation revealed his impermissible contact with a Mason Gross School of Arts adjunct professor regarding the academic ineligibility of former cornerback Nadir Barnwell, apologized publicly to the Rutgers community in his return to the public eye.
“To the students, to the alumni, and especially the faculty — a faculty I have tremendous respect for,” Flood said. “Since becoming the head coach in 2012, it’s never been my goal to just be the head football coach at Rutgers. My goal has always been to be a bigger part of the community here at Rutgers, a bigger part of the community in New Jersey and I’ve worked very hard to make that happen.”
The Scarlet Knights (2-3, 0-2) went 1-2 in Flood’s absence, starting with a 28-3 blowout loss at Penn State on Sept. 19 and culminating with a gut wrenching 31-24 defeat to a Michigan State team that entered last Saturday night’s primetime tilt at High Point Solutions Stadium at No. 4 in the AP Top 25.
In between the two, the Knights bounced back in to the win column with a 27-14 decision over Kansas on homecoming.
The fourth-year head coach maintained his oversight of practice duties during his suspension, but now he resumes game day responsibilities when Rutgers heads to Bloomington later on in the week with a 3:30 p.m. ET Big Ten matchup at Indiana (4-2, 0-2) on Saturday.
Despite the time spent coaching the team at practice, being relegated to a spectator from his television set at home evidently took its toll on Flood.
“I spent the first two (games) by myself watching the game, and then this week's game I spent with my son watching the game, and I guess what I would tell you is it's probably the most helpless I've ever felt in 22 years of coaching,” he said. “To be watching your team play, you've been with them all week, you feel like you add value when you're there, and when you can't, you just feel helpless.”
While Flood’s return starts to turn the page from his own situation for now, questions still linger. The University hired an outside law firm from Kansas to conduct a top-to-bottom investigation following the string of off-field issues pertaining to the football program.
Dismissed from the team after his arrest for several New Brunswick home invasions months earlier in the year in April, former fullback Lloyd Terry, 20, allegedly admitted to a marijuana addiction during his time as a member of the football team.
Terry told authorities in a court hearing on Sept. 25 that he had failed multiple drug tests during his time with the Knights.
Flood said he could not discuss Terry’s situation publicly, but defended the football program’s drug policy, which differentiates from other Rutgers athletics programs. In the football team’s policy, a player’s ultimate dismissal is not enforced until the fourth offense.
“Our program enforces the University drug policy,” he said. “That's not an issue. But I think what people need to understand is that that policy has different phases to it. That policy is about testing. That policy is about care. And we have a best-in-class care system here at Rutgers, one that any of our athletes who test positive immediately go into, and we're very proud of it, that we do everything we can to help our student-athletes with what is a very, very serious issue today with young people.”
Following the reinstatement of Flood on Sunday and senior wide receiver Leonte Carroo last Wednesday, Rutgers regains a pair of key pieces to the puzzle of a 2015 season — one that potentially hinges on a pivotal swing game at Indiana.
Despite the Knights’ 31-24 loss to then-No. 4 Michigan State, Carroo’s immediate impact in his first game since Sept. 12 was felt on the receiving end of seven catches for 134 yards and three touchdowns to ignite the offense and the Blackout crowd of 50,373 at High Point Solutions Stadium.
While there is certainly no undermining the value of the team’s senior captain, one Knight that finds himself on the outside looking in as a result of Carroo’s return is Carlton Agudosi.
The junior wide receiver did not touch the field once for Rutgers last Saturday night. As the Spartans sliced the Knights in heartbreaking fashion, there was nothing he could do from the sidelines.
“It was difficult. I really wanted to play,” Agudosi said. “I feel like I was ready to play and contribute, so I was upset I didn’t get the chance to play.”
After the game, assistant head coach Norries Wilson became emotional when he mentioned Agudosi’s situation.
“You're going to ask me about Leonte Carroo. I'll say you need to ask me about Carlton Agudosi, who had to sit and not play so our best player could play,” Wilson said.
The Somerset, New Jersey, native stepped in for Carroo at the “X” receiver and performed admirably. Over the span of Carroo’s absence, Agudosi led the Knights with nine receptions for 108 yards and recorded first-career touchdown.
It was the first time in Agudosi’s four years on the Banks where the 6-foot-6, 220-pound wideout had begun to flash the length and athleticism that had coaches and fans raving about his potential in the past few years.
Carroo said he would text Agudosi after each game, providing words of encouragement.
“I even texted him after he scored his first-career touchdown against Kansas and I was like, ‘Congrats, bro. Many more to come,’” Carroo said. “(Agudosi is) a great player, he knows that he’s a great player … I was more happy with the way he stepped up and handled (starting in the previous two games). He played very well and he’s one of my really, really good friends.”
While Agudosi maintains that his preparation and mindset during the week will not change leading up to the road match at the Hoosiers, the junior admitted he feels as if he has earned the right to line up on the outside of the line of scrimmage in some capacity.
“I feel like I deserve to be out there (on the field),” Agudosi said. “But it’s up to the coaches to make the decision. So if they don’t feel like I should be out there, then that’s there decision. But I feel like I’m ready to be out there and play.”
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