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Bad news comes in twos for the Rutgers football team it seems, as the last week has proved particularly negative for those hoping the Scarlet Knights would escape its rather haunting issues of depth that plagued them from September onward last season.
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Ahmir Mitchell suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) announced head coach Chris Ash on Tuesday.Mitchell injured his knee during Saturday's practice — in which the Rutgers football team participated in its first scrimmage of the spring — and will undergo surgery.
Offensive line coach — and now, assistant head coach — AJ Blazek has had quite the offseason.On top of being promoted to the latter position by head coach Chris Ash during the first week of spring practice, Blazek maintains the job of filling three starting positions on the front line and acclimating three early enrollees to Rutgers football in true freshmen Micah Clark, Sam Vretman and Jamaal Beaty.But following Competition Saturday — where the offense and defense got their first competitive on-field action by way of a scrimmage — Blazek contended that that job was doing itself, courtesy of those stepping into their new roles seamlessly.“Our ones are starting to gel a little bit,” Blazek said.
When Janarion Grant went down at the lip of the endzone against Iowa in September of last season, much of the receiving burden then fell on the shoulders of then-senior Andre Patton and two-sport athlete Jawuan Harris.Harris, a true freshman, soundly stepped up in Grant’s absence, though with opposing coverage favoring him, the options for quarterback Giovanni Rescigno and company stood few and far between.
A black banner reading "The Hunt" is taped on the wall of the Indoor Practice Bubble, risen high enough for any player, coach or trainer on the Rutgers football team to take in the mantra head coach Chris Ash set in when he first came to the Scarlet Knights.Thursday began the second season of the Ash campaign, as the first spring practice of the year came underway, but the energy under the dome suggested it isn't much of a second season.
It seemed a season of familiarity.Anthony Ashnault led the team out onto the mats in early November as he had done in years past.Ken Theobold and Nicholas Gravina, never too far behind, provided lessons in stability and security.
As with any major event for head coach Scott Goodale and his Rutgers wrestling team, it was all about health.“Getting some really good rest, a couple days off,” he said.
For 11 recently graduated athletes and two players entering their second year of eligibility for the NFL, Friday presents
He led the attack early.Latching onto the leg in the opening minute, junior 141-pounder Anthony Ashnault secured the takedown and riding time beyond necessity.Never one to settle, it soon became near-fall after near-fall after near-fall, and the No. 1 overall seed could see a second Big Ten Championship around the corner.
Ten is always the goal.To send the entire eligible Rutgers wrestling team to St. Louis has been the goal since before the wrestling room was dusted off again in August.
At the beginning of the season, junior 141-pounder Anthony Ashnault had this to say.“We definitely have the talent to be putting four or five guys on the podium and to be national champs on the board,” he said.After the Rutgers wrestling team put two wrestlers through the gauntlet and onto the national stage as All-Americans last year — himself and then-fifth-year senior 165-pounder Anthony Perrotti — Ashnault held that with the absence of his teammate Perrotti, others would step up.With weeks to go before the NCAA Championships, another All-American may well in fact prop up, but one thing the 2016-2017 season has shown is that the Scarlet Knights have not found another Anthony Perrotti.
In almost every metric, the Rutgers wrestling team is looking up.Since their initial membership in the Big Ten, the Scarlet Knights have gone from 2-7 to 5-4 to 6-3 in the conference, breaking through national rankings and knocking off a few ranked foes.To boot, the Rutgers Athletic Center has been anything but a fortress for the Knights.
On a day during a season always looking toward the future, six seniors on the Rutgers wrestling team said their final goodbyes to the Rutgers Athletic Center.A picture at the center of the mat, and the seniors — 174-pounder Phillip Bakuckas, 125-pounder Sean McCabe, 165-pounder Anthony Pafumi, 125-pounder Josh Patrick and 149-pounder Ken Theobold — took their seats on the bench.
Monday could not have started any better for Anthony Ashnault and the Rutgers wrestling team.Kicking off the second of two random draws this weekend, the junior 141-pounder silenced any doubters worried about his ability to bring his all in matches against other ranked opponents.
After leaving the Rutgers Athletic Center and trekking to Columbus, Ohio only hours after on Sunday, the Rutgers wrestling team knew two things.One was that there were only two dual meets separating it from tournament season, which meant that convention and confusion would have to be compromised for the other in order to find the right chemistry that makes the team tick.And that needed to happen fast.The other was that after a weekend in Michigan billowing in unmet expectations, the No. 14 Scarlet Knights needed to tap into one of those two in order to have success in Bloomington and St.
Mustering up only 11 individual match victories over two dual meets was not how head coach Scott Goodale and the rest of the Rutgers wrestling team envisioned last weekend.With that in mind, it comes as almost a shock that the Scarlet Knights (10-3, 4-2) left the Great Lake State with both a win and a loss, but the trip West didn’t go without consequences.Sliding down two spots in the national rankings to its lowest point of the season thus far, No. 14 Rutgers faces just as daunting of a challenge in the upcoming double dual-meet weekend as it did in Michigan.“We’ve traditionally done a really good job bouncing back,” Goodale said after the Knights’ 37-6 defeat to Penn State in the middle of January.Though he had hoped that would be the last time he would have to utter that phrase, the premise presented itself further last weekend.
Barriers, most would say, are there to be broken, but for the Rutgers wrestling team, smashing through the upper tier of Big Ten competition has always been a struggle.Permeating the minds of the grapplers as they departed for Michigan were all of the dual meets that got away.It was two months prior when then-No. 8 Cornell rocked the Scarlet Knights to the tune of 28-10 at “Grapple at the Garden” at Madison Square Garden, rounding out an event that should have been Rutgers’ for the taking.And less than a month removed from an uncharacteristically poor showing in State College, where the No. 2 Nittany Lions laid waste to the Knights, 37-6.“We got our butts handed to us, and it was good to see that,” said head coach Scott Goodale.
Since the inception of Big Ten play for Rutgers athletics a few years ago, the Rutgers wrestling team has served as a beacon of hope and light among an otherwise dim setting.The Scarlet Knights have constantly found themselves playing second, third and sometimes 14th fiddle to their conference rivals in other sports.
Down 7-0, John Van Brill reverses, then mounts. In a swift few seconds, the whistle blows and he rises.