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Redshirt freshman running back Jawan Jamison heads toward the end zone at Yankee Stadium for his second touchdown of the game after a juke left Iowa State safety Jacques Washington reaching for air and allowed Jamison to score untouched from 12 yards out.

SIGN OF THE TIMES Underclassmen lead way against Iowa State at Yankee Stadium in Rutgers’ fifth conseuctive bowl victory BY STEVEN MILLER SPORTS EDITOR

NEW YORK — Standing at midfield Dec. 30 in Yankee Stadium, Rutgers head football coach Greg Schiano pointed to a 103-by-58-foot screen beyond the center-field fence. “This one’s for you,” Schiano said to a smiling Eric LeGrand, who looked down on his teammates celebrating a 27-13 New Era Pinstripe Bowl victor y against Iowa State. The season ended with another failed attempt at a Big East title, but Schiano’s fifth bowl victory. And after the previous campaign ended with six consecutive losses, the only bowl absence in the past six seasons and a paralyzing injur y to LeGrand, a 9-4 season that ended with celebrations in the Bronx was a perfect conclusion. “We’re 9-4, and not a lot of teams can say they won nine games this season,” said junior

defensive tackle Scott Vallone. “We’re ver y happy about that, but we know what we left on the table, and I think this bowl game is going to really propel us into the offseason and get us focused on what we really want next year.” The win propels a defense that created three more takeaways, bringing its season total to 34 — less than only two Football Bowl Subdivision teams. And it focuses a run game and offensive line that was arguably its best all season in its finale. A revamped offensive line led the way, but redshirt freshman Jawan Jamison reaped the reward, walking away with 131 yards, two touchdowns and an MVP trophy. “[Running backs coach Chris Hewitt] came to me at the half and said, ‘Greg, I don’t think they can stop this kid,’” Schiano said. “I said, ‘Well, then let’s run him.’ I was proud of that little guy. He kind of chugged along.”

The 5-foot-8 tailback put the Scarlet Knights ahead with a pair of second-quarter touchdowns. One came on his second effort to convert a fourth down on the goal line. The other came with a juke that left ISU safety Jacques Washington helpless. “I pride myself on not letting one man take me down — I’m going to make him miss,” said Jamison, who broke the century mark for the third time this season and finished the campaign with nine touchdowns. “That’s what’s helping me out a lot.” But when Rutgers needed to kill the clock and ice the game with a seven-point lead and six minutes remaining in regulation, it veered away from the run. Sophomore quar terback Chas Dodd was under center after alternating throughout the game with freshman Gar y Nova, and he aired it out on second down. Redshirt freshman wideout Brandon Coleman pulled Dodd’s pass in past cornerback

Jeremy Reeves and used the long strides of his 6-foot-6 frame to outrun the 5-foot-7 defender 86 yards. “We said going into the game we had a height advantage on their cornerbacks and we needed to make sure that we took enough shots down the field, and we did,” Schiano said. “But I thought that was a gutsy call by [offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti] with the game where it was. I mean, that’s a huge turning point.” It gave the Knights a 14-point cushion that the defense — namely Logan Ryan — preserved. The sophomore cornerback, who finished second on the team with seven tackles and half a sack, broke up one of his two passes on Iowa State’s fourthdown attempt at the end zone with 1:16 remaining. When the Cyclones got the ball back after a Rutgers three-and-out, Ryan intercepted a Steele Jantz pass to clinch the victory.

“He’s a very talented kid, and he’s a very hard-working kid,” said Schiano, who helps coach the secondary. “He got a chance and he made the most of it, and he’s had a tremendous season. He needs to be — going forward — one of our leaders, and the way he played, he made big plays in one-on-one coverage.” It was only one of a number of positives for Rutgers, which boasts the longest active bowl winning streak in the country. And as much as this season was about responding to last year’s disappointment and this bowl was for LeGrand, the play of returning players makes it difficult to not start thinking about next season. “It’s an exciting feeling,” Ryan said. “We’re going to enjoy this win, then work hard in the offseason and chase that Big East championship. That’s what we play for.” This story originally appeared Dec. 30 at dailytargum.com.


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NOAH WHITTENBURG / ASSOCIATE PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR

Freshman linebacker Kevin Snyder, left, sophomore Jamal Merrell, center, and redshirt freshman Lorenzo Waters, ground, combine to tackle Iowa State’s Jarvis West. Snyder and Merrell split time at linebacker throughout the year and return next year as part of a four-man unit that earned nearly all the snaps this season.

Defense returns bounty following offseason of changes BY TYLER BARTO ASSOCIATE SPORTS EDITOR

NEW YORK — Less than an hour after the Rutgers football team’s 27-13 New Era Pinstripe Bowl victory against Iowa State, Max Issaka was not content. So the redshirt defensive end sought out the defense’s elder statesman, fifth-year senior Justin Francis. “Congratulations,” Francis said. “Thanks,” Issaka said. “But next year, we’re going to really grind to get another [bowl win].” Francis, who exhausted his eligibility, appreciated the gesture. He and two other defensive starters graduate in May, but the cupboard in Piscataway is far from bare. The Scarlet Knights return a three-year starter on the defensive line and three-fourths of their secondary, which includes All-Big East first- and secondteam selections. But head coach Greg Schiano’s biggest coup is in the middle, where four linebackers who earned legitimate playing time will vie again for reps in a crowded corps. “It gives me hope that we’ll have a good football team going forward,” Schiano said Dec. 30. “We’ve been a pretty consistent program — going to bowl games, winning bowl games. We have to get to the next level. I hope that these guys — this group of players, this group of coaches — will get us over the top, get us to the championship level.” The face of the movement might be the player who stood to gain the most from leaving. Junior linebacker Khaseem

Greene, the Big East’s co-defensive player of the year, announced Dec. 26 he would return for his final season instead of opting for the NFL. He and middle linebacker Steve Beauharnais, who enjoyed his most productive season as a Knight, headline a unit that ranked third in the nation in takeaways and 10th in scoring defense. Add in sophomore Jamal Merrell and freshman Kevin Snyder, and the linebacking corps is its deepest in recent memory. “The whole defense in general is just talented throughout — the offense, too,” said Greene, who will have a contact-free spring along with Beauharnais after injuring his ankle in the bowl finale. “This team is going to be special next year. We’re going to get ready to work ... and get ready for what’s going to be a better season next year.” Greene and the middle of Rutgers’ defense faced the most questions entering the season. The Elizabeth High School product transitioned in the of fseason from safety. Beauharnais began training camp on the outside before moving back to the signal-calling role he occupied as a sophomore. Merrell was a former wide receiver, and Snyder never played a college snap. But Greene led the conference four months later with 140 tackles. Beauharnais tacked on a team-high 15 tackles for loss, five sacks and three interceptions. Merrell proved adept in pass coverage, and Snyder began to make a living behind the line of scrimmage.

“It makes me feel really good. We have something special in this locker room,” Greene said. “We didn’t need anybody to believe that or understand that. It’s great for me to say I’m coming back to be a part of it for next year. It’s going to be special.” The secondary boasts talented returners of its own. Only a sophomore, cornerback Logan Ryan became the Knights’ premier threat in pass defense. He broke up two passes, recorded seven tackles, registered half a sack and picked off Iowa State’s Steele Jantz at Yankee Stadium. Ryan finished the season with a team-high 13 pass breakups, the third-most tackles and three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. “With all the work we put in and all the position changes and Eric LeGrand and all the things that went wrong for this program, I think it shows how much we fight,” Ryan said. “This is definitely our reward.” Junior safety Duron Harmon, a conference first-team pick with five interceptions, joins Ryan in the defensive backfield. So do junior Brandon Jones and a host of young cornerbacks. Francis realizes the unit’s potential. He saw it every day, and now he will do the same — albeit from afar. “That’s all I really wanted to see — me leaving my legacy for the younger guys and seeing them do great things,” he said. “Guys see it seldom during games. I see the younger guys in there grinding, watching film. I can only appreciate that grind and that mentality.”

NOAH WHITTENBURG / ASSOCIATE PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR

Senior defensive tackle Justin Francis (91) blocked a field goal in his final college game, leaving behind a defense that saw Logan Ryan (11) excel in his first season as a starter.

NOAH WHITTENBURG / ASSOCIATE PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR


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KEITH FREEMAN / PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR

Greg Schiano used both Gary Nova and Chas Dodd at quarterback, but relied on the run game and his defense to win a fifth consecutive bowl game, which is the longest active streak in college football. The Knights beat Iowa State, 27-13, at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

KEITH FREEMAN / PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR


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Junior wide receiver Mohamed Sanu attacks defenders after pulling in one of his six catches for 62 yards in Rutgers’ 27-13 New Era Pinstripe Bowl victory. Sanu broke former Rutgers standout Brian Leonard’s career receptions record with the performance and finished with 210 receptions in his three-year career.

Sanu declares for Draft despite attachment to RU BY STEVEN MILLER SPORTS EDITOR

Standing at a podium inside the Hale Center on Jan. 3, it became clear Mohamed Sanu was not simply battling nerves as he announced he would forgo his senior season and declare for the NFL Draft. His swollen eyes said he was battling tears. His words said he battled the decision. “Definitely, I was thinking about coming back,” Sanu said. “I love Rutgers so much.” But the reality stared Sanu in the face, and after a dominant junior season, there was no other decision he could make. He set a single-game Big East record for receptions with 16 against Ohio. He set a single-season Big East record for receptions with 115. He set a Big East record for career receptions with 210. And by the time the season opens next year, Sanu will already be 23 years old. “We talked about all the stuff I did here, the year I had, not sure if I would match numbers,” Sanu said. “And also we talked about my age being a difference. I’m 22 going on 23. We talked about a lot of stuff.” Yet in Sanu’s final press conference as a Rutgers football player, much of the talk was about what he will miss. He thanked head coach Greg Schiano, wide receivers coach P.J. Fleck, his teammates and the fans, who chanted, “One more year,” after Sanu capped his career as a Scarlet Knight with six catches for 62 yards in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. It was a decidedly average finale for a player who pulled in

double-digit receptions six times this season and amassed more than 100 yards seven times, consistently making highlight-reel catches appear routine. He was a unanimous First Team All-Big East selection and honorable mention All-American by SI.com. Asked what made him most proud, Sanu did not name any of it. “Mostly I’m proud of playing at Rutgers and staying home,” the South Brunswick native said. “I felt like it was the best decision I made to come here.”

“Certainly being selfish, I’d love to have [Mohamed Sanu] back. Any coach would love to have Mo.” GREG SCHIANO Head Coach

Sanu made the decision in February of his junior year at South Brunswick High School, where he was ineligible to play as a senior because of his age. He practiced with the team through the fall, then graduated and enrolled at Rutgers in the spring, when he began his career by spending the first 12 practices at safety. A lack of offensive playmakers necessitated the move to wide receiver, and 10 catches for 101 yards in his debut against Cincinnati reinforced the decision. Sanu’s 10 100-yard receiving games ranks second in program histor y. “I’m always going to do what’s best for the individual,” Schiano

said. “When they reach that point, they’ve done so much for this University and for this football family, I don’t think it’s ever right to be selfish. Certainly being selfish, I’d love to have Mo back. Any coach would love to have Mo on their team.” Instead, Sanu becomes the fourth Rutgers player to declare early under Schiano. Ray Rice was the first in 2007, when the Baltimore Ravens drafted the All-Pro running back in the second round. Wide receiver Kenny Britt followed in 2009, becoming the first Rutgers first-round pick. Offensive lineman Anthony Davis left after the 2010 season, when the San Francisco 49ers made him the highest Rutgers draft pick at No. 11 overall. Sanu projects as more of a second-round pick, although he declined to get into the specifics of what feedback he received in regard to his draft stock. Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon, South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery and Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd headline the wide receiver crop, and Sanu likely slots in beneath them. He leaves a Rutgers wide receiver corps that returns every major contributor except for himself, and Sanu believes it can be among the best in the country. But he will not be part of it, and despite his struggle with the decision, he really had no other choice. “It was very hard because I’m emotionally attached to this team,” Sanu said. “All of them are my brothers, and the coaches are like my fathers. We have such a tight bond. I love all of these guys.” This story originally appeared Jan. 3 at dailytargum.com.

SANU’S TOP SIX 6. Nov. 27, 2009 — Rutgers 34, Louisville 14

Sanu shouldered the offensive burden as a freshman the day after Thanksgiving, carrying the ball 18 times out of the Wildcat for 141 yards and two touchdowns, including a 29-yard scamper with a vicious stiff-arm.

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Sept. 24, 2011 — Ohio 26, Rutgers 38

Sanu set a Big East record for receptions in a game with 16, totaling 176 yards and two touchdowns.

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Nov. 12, 2011 — Rutgers 27, Army 12

Sanu caught 13 passes for 129 yards at Yankee Stadium. Catch No. 8 broke Kenny Britt’s single-season Rutgers receptions record and No. 12 broke Larry Fitzgerald’s Big East mark en route to a 115-catch season.

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Sept. 7, 2009 — Cincinnati 47, Rutgers 15

The freshman had one training camp and three spring practices under his belt at wide receiver before he debuted with 10 catches for 101 yards and two punishing blocks in his first collegiate game.

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Nov. 5, 2011 — South Florida 17, Rutgers 20

Rutgers turned to Sanu when it trailed late in the fourth quarter, and he caught seven passes for 60 yards on a game-tying drive, none bigger than a reception from his back to convert on fourth-and-9.

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Dec. 19, 2009 — Central Florida 24, Rutgers 45

Sanu was dominant as a freshman in his bowl debut, carrying the ball 13 times for 41 yards and a pair of bruising touchdowns while pulling in four catches for 97 yards en route to a Most Valuable Player Award.


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LB commit shifts roles to recruiter BY STEVEN MILLER SPORTS EDITOR

The full impact of Quanzell Lambert’s Jan. 5 announcement inside the Timber Creek Regional High School library may not be felt for another few weeks. Because as soon as the fourstar middle linebacker became the Rutgers football team’s 15th verbal commitment for the Class of 2012, he announced the vision he and head coach Greg Schiano share — set off a domino effect to complete the class. “I’m a big, firm believer in building programs,” Lambert said. “There’s no doubt in my mind I can go to Rutgers and do the same thing.” That starts with Lambert’s No. 1 recruiting target: Don Bosco Prep defensive lineman Darius Hamilton. The consensus five-star prospect and son of former New York Giant Keith Hamilton counts Rutgers among his finalists and will be one of a handful of highpriority recruits on campus this weekend for an official visit. Lambert took his official visit Dec. 9 — a turning point in his recruitment after his relationship with the Scarlet Knights faltered during the season. But Lambert reconnected with defensive line coach Phil Galiano, who was on hand at his commitment ceremony, in time to spend a weekend in Piscataway and ultimately commit to Rutgers instead of Iowa or Nebraska. “Going there, I saw a car being built that I haven’t seen in any other programs,” said Lambert, who plans to major in mechanical engineering. “Since when I was younger, I always built cars with my dad. They actually build cars there; they don’t just talk about it. It also came down to a gut feeling. It was a family there. There wasn’t a lone wolf on the team — from the best player to a third-string player.” Lambert said he would not use any specific pitch with Hamilton or other recruits, whom he began speaking to about Rutgers two weeks before his announcement. Rather, he will invite them to join that family atmosphere. “You’ll be a great player wherever you go,” Lambert said, “But I tell them I’d love to be teammates with them if we come together and start this program up.” If Rutgers finishes the recruiting season the way it hopes, it will welcome the Knights’ greatest haul yet, potentially headlined by at least six All-Americans. Uncommitted recruits Hamilton and Devin Fuller (Old Tappan quarterback) played with commits Leonte Carroo (Don Bosco wideout) and Chris Muller (Boyertown, Pa., offensive tackle) in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Lambert played with Long Branch offensive line recruit Ryan Brodie in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl. And once National Signing Day passes on Feb. 1, Lambert’s reach could continue into the Class of 2013, which features three Timber Creek teammates with Rutgers offers. “They all look up to him because [Lambert] does everything the right way,” Timber Creek head coach Rob Hinson said. “He’s a great kid, so everyone wants to be around him. ”

THE DAILY TARGUM

Eric LeGrand speaks with the media Dec. 20 after his mother, Karen, surprised him with the news that he won Sports Illustrated’s Facebook fan vote to earn the final cover of the year and the title of Best Moment of 2011.

LeGrand wins vote as SI moment of year BY STEVEN MILLER SPORTS EDITOR

Growing up, Eric LeGrand always made sure to stop in the bathroom when visiting one of his friends’ houses. That is where they kept Sports Illustrated, and LeGrand always brought the issues out to flip through and read. LeGrand learned Dec. 20 he will have to find his own home for the final Sports Illustrated of 2011, which features LeGrand on the cover as the “Best Moment of 2011” as he leads Rutgers out of the tunnel prior to facing West Virginia. “Growing up, that’s the magazine that you know — Sports Illustrated,” LeGrand said. “Now, to be on the cover of it, I don’t even know what to say.” Fans had a say in the decision for the first time in the magazine’s 57-year history. Sports Illustrated opened up the decision for the final cover to a Facebook fan vote, featuring LeGrand among 14 of the other top moments of the year. Barcelona star Lionel Messi, who led his Spanish soccer team to a Champions League title, finished second in the voting. David Freese and the St. Louis Cardinals finished third for their World Series comeback. New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who recorded his 3,000th career hit, and Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers did not even crack the top five. “When you put it into perspective, ‘Wow’ is really all you can say,” LeGrand said. “Aaron Rodgers — look at the

year he’s having, and [I] beat him out.” LeGrand received 29.3 percent of the first-place votes, and the result is a cover that features LeGrand driving his motorized wheelchair through the snow, flanked by teammates and close friends Khaseem Greene and Scott Vallone. It is the first time a Scarlet Knight adorned the cover while at Rutgers. “That was just a great moment for my team,” LeGrand said. “Being able to come out there with them — this is my team, this is my senior year. That was the main reason I wanted to do it. The snow wasn’t going to hold me back.” LeGrand continues to progress in his recover y from a spinal cord injur y that left him paralyzed. He began sitting up the week before, knowing he would grace the cover, and reached 35 seconds with someone suppor ting his pelvis and 27 seconds without any suppor t. LeGrand said his next goal is to reach the 30-second mark on his own. “If he ever wondered what effect he was having on people worldwide — it’s pretty neat,” said head coach Greg Schiano. LeGrand held off a late push in Spain to put Messi on the cover — one his mother, Karen, followed from her computer. Votes poured in from 178 countries, but only California produced more votes than New Jersey in the United States. “It was Rutgers against the world,” Karen LeGrand said. Rutgers and LeGrand won, and Time Inc. Spor ts Group

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED

Teammates and friends Scott Vallone, left, and Khaseem Greene flank Eric LeGrand as he leads the team onto the field. Editor Terr y McDonell called year-old will be deser ving of a it the per fect choice in the re-election campaign. “Editor’s Letter” inside the “I take this as a responsibility,” issue. SI senior writer LeGrand said. “I have all these Alexander Wolf f wrote the people following me, and I want cover stor y, which begins on more and more, but I have to get page 52. He concludes that the better. I have to get back on my next time LeGrand leads out feet because that’s the main goal.” the Scarlet Knights, which LeGrand insists will happen This story originally appeared when he is walking, the 21Dec. 20 at dailytargum.com.


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Sanu says goodbye Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu rewrote the Rutgers and Big East record books as a junior, then announced his intentions to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft.

KEITH FREEMAN / PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR


Bowl Special 2012-01-17