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Interview: StateOfRutgers.com talks Rutgers Football

Double G Sports talks with one of the founders of StateOfRutgers.com about Rutgers football as spring practice has come to a close.

Spring football scrimmages have become much bigger events the past few years. The one that took place at Rutgers Stadium last Saturday is no different. Sure they don’t draw the number of fans schools like Alabama and Penn State draw, but Rutgers did it’s best to make it a true all around event. This season Rutgers decided to tie the game into the annual Rutgers Community Day.

Double G Sports got the chance to ask Todderick Hunt a few questions about Rutgers football and the Spring Game. Hunt is one of the site managers for StateOfRutgers.com. A dominant defensive lineman for Woodbridge High School in New Jersey, Hunt brings knowledge of the game and combines that with a passion for Rutgers football. After high school, Hunt went on to play a year of college football for Towson University and was a starting left offensive tackle his freshman year. Unfortunately Hunt had to leave the school after year and was unable to regain his playing days.

He then went to Rutgers to take some classes and earn his degree. During his time at the state university, Hunt fell in love with Rutgers football. He has now turned that love into a passionate Rutgers football fan site know as StateOfRutgers.com.

Hunt was in attendance at the Spring Game and was kind enough to offer his take on Rutgers football.

Double G Sports:  Tell us about your website, StateofRutgers.com?

Hunt:  StateofRutgers.com is a Rutgers based football/basketball fan site. We cover Rutgers specific team and alumni news via video and audio interviews, live chats, message board info, and written editorials. We also cover high school recruiting of the entire Northeast region for football as well as both men and women’s basketball.

DGS:  It seems like a lot of the site is focused on recruiting news, is that your favorite part of running the site?

Hunt:  Absolutely. The best part about being in the business is getting to formulate relationships with some of the top players in the country; guys who are potential NFL Draft picks.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the opportunity to actually find kids and introduce them to the Rutgers audience as well as the recruiting landscape altogether, which is nice. There is nothing more rewarding than watching a kid who no one knew anything about, go to college on a full scholarship due to you putting his ability to light.

DGS:  So, the Spring Game was this past weekend. What are your initial impressions from the game?

Hunt:  I thought the game was similar to most spring games; very vanilla. It’s really hard to tell what a team encompasses when watching a spring game.

The defense looks very athletic and absolutely certain about everything they do. They have the opportunity to be special. I believe that Khaseem Greene, Steve Beaharnais, and Isaac Holmes have what it takes to become elite players.

The offense does not seem to have cliqued as of yet. I have concerns about the run-blocking and the team’s ability to gain yardage on the ground. Pass protection will take a while to orchestrate as well. There are two incoming freshman who have an opportunity to truly impact the team in 2010 due to these deficiencies.

Look for offensive tackle Jorge Vicioso and running back Casey Turner to push for early playing time due to lack of consistency at their positions.

Joe Martinek appears to have improved. He seemed a lot more nimble then usual. You also have to be excited about guys like Tom Savage, Mohamed Sanu, DC Jefferson, Harrison, and Wright and Pratt. Stroud also made a tremendous catch for a touchdown during the contest. With all of the attention on Sanu, Wright and Harrison, Stroud might be as much of an athletic freak as any of them.

DGS:  A record crowd of 20,114 attended the game. What does that say about the state of Rutgers football?

Hunt:  It sounds nice. I look forward to a day where Rutgers can get 92,000 fans to come down and watch the spring game like the University of Alabama. Now, I know there isn’t much to do in Alabama other than watch or play football, but a good goal for Rutgers spring game attendance should be about 35,000 attendees.

That’s when you know you have truly arrived; when you can open the entire stadium to the fans for the spring game. I like how they leveraged Rutgers Day with the Spring Game, making it more of an event. They are on the right track.

DGS:  Do you think fan support is continuing to grow, or has it leveled off the last couple years?

Hunt:  I think that the fan support has correlated towards the trend of the results on the field. So yes, it has leveled off just a bit, but it’s nothing that another 11-win season couldn’t cure.

Rutgers football has been accepted as mainstream. You see Rutgers gear all over the television set. I don’t know how many times I have caught a Rutgers mention when watching network television. However, now is the time to take the next step into the upper-echelon; by producing the type of performances that cause the Empire State building to be lit up in red.

DGS:  The offensive line was short handed due to injuries, how do you think they performed under the circumstances?

Hunt:  This group up front has a lot of work to do. Howard Barbieri, a walk-on, is likely the most productive offensive lineman on the roster. I think that Desmond Wynn as well as Barbieri returning healthy will be a key to the success of the guys up front. If Wynn returns 100% from his shoulder injuries -which could be a huge deal for an offensive lineman – I would think he would be the starting left tackle due to his ability to move. I think that Lowery will be fine at guard once he gets his technique down and becomes comfortable on the offensive side of the ball.

I noticed Art Forst getting work at right tackle on Saturday. I’m not sure if he will stick there or be moved back inside though. He seems more comfortable no the inside, but he has the frame of a tackle.

Also, if Jamal Wilson can get the playbook down, he will definitely be able to move bodies around up front. It looks like he might be a guard as opposed to a tackle.

Rutgers has a lot of bodies to mix and match up front, but there isn’t a while lot of experienced depth there. I truly believe that incoming freshman Jorge Vicioso can help this group immediately.

DGS:  Joe Martinek ran for 116 yards on 18 carries including a 52 yard run. Was this a result of a work in progress defense or can we expect this from Jersey Joe more consistently?

Hunt:  Jersey Joe looked good. It looks like he has been working on his lateral quickness and agility more so than increasing his bulk; good move by Martinek. Another 1,000 yards on the ground are within his sights in 2010. I still think that Rutgers needs an additional guy to facilitate the running game though; a change of pace to give the defense a different look.

Hopefully De’Antwan Williams can display improvement once he returns from injury. Although a shifty runner, it is his vision which needs a bit of an improvement before he can consistently contribute to the Scarlet Knights.

DGS:  Any indications on the progress between quarterback Tom Savage and the young receivers?

Hunt:  Savage did a good job displaying poise and stepping up in the pocket and delivering a good ball. I would still like to see him go through his progressions a bit more. It still seems like he was locked onto a couple receivers, but he is improving. You can’t work as hard as he does and not improve.

Mark Harrison is almost there. I think that all he needs is one breakout game to boost his confidence level, and he will be a nightmare to cover. But you could say that about at least 10 receivers on the Scarlet Knights roster. They are loaded with athleticism, but lack productive game experience.

DGS:  Which player changing positions will make the biggest impact in 2010?

Hunt:  I think that by about halfway through the season, the move of Antwan Lowery to right guard will begin to pay dividends. The kid is continually improving his conditioning, and the right guard (when your quarterback is right handed) is likely the easiest offensive line position to adapt to. In other words, you can get away with utilizing brute force if you forget exactly what you were supposed to do.

DGS:  Rutgers has a few players working back from injury this year. Do you see any of them making significant contributions?

Hunt:  Again, Desmond Wynn, Howard Barbieri, and Antwan Lowery will all be needed to make significant contributions if the Scarlet Knights plan to get it done on the offensive side of the ball.

It would be nice to see wide receiver Eddie Poole completely healthy. He has special ability.

DGS:  Which areas of the team are you most excited about heading into the season?

Hunt:  The defense overall; I can’t even pick just one defensive position group. The secondary, linebackers, and defensive line should be a treat to watch in 2010. Look for Eric LeGrand to break out as a top performer among a talented interior defensive line including Freshman All-American Scott Vallone and likely team captain, Charlie Noonan.

It will be interesting to see what the staff does with Manny Abreu. Will he be utilized as a hybrid, or solely as either a defensive end or linebacker? Will he play at all? I would not be surprised to see him moved permanently to defensive end where he could utilize his athleticism more while making easier reads. That is something to look out for.

DGS:  Which areas need the most improvement before the season starts?

Hunt:  Offensive line, offensive line, and offensive line again.

Rutgers must get a decent group together and get them as many repetitions as they can get together. They can’t have a situation like the one last year where the offensive line was being pieced together throughout the entire season, resulting in a lack of continuity.

DGS:  From the scrimmage and spring practices, is there anything Rutgers fans should be concerned about?

Hunt:  Obviously, there is a huge lack of depth at the quarterback position, causing the guys with the green jerseys to not be able to take any hits throughout the spring. My concern is how they will adapt to playing without the quick whistle during live game action.

I expect Chas Dodd to come in and compete immediately. In talking to Dodd on numerous occasions, he isn’t coming to compete for the backup job, he hopes to compete and become the starter.

Rutgers will receive an additional boost to their quarterback depth when an undisclosed freshman will walk-on the Rutgers football team this summer.

DGS:  After spring practices, what do you think the expectations should be for Rutgers football in 2010?

Hunt:  Rutgers fans should expect a 10-win season. I could see that happening on the strength of the defense and a solid effort from the offense. If Rutgers can tailor the offense to their strengths, they will be able to mask the deficiencies among them offensive line.

You should see the offense air it out a bit more than they have in the past. Rutgers might have to utilize the pass to set up the run instead of vice versa. Expect a lot of screens, draws, all kinds of misdirection and play-action in order to keep defenses honest, and out of attack mode.

DGS:  If the Big Ten does come calling, do you think Rutgers should make the move out of the Big East?

Hunt:  RU would have to go. I would like to see Rutgers win the Big East first, before departing, but leaving to the Big Ten if offered is a no-brainer. There is just to much money to be made, an increase in respectability, as well as a better recruiting angle if they land in the Big 10, or whatever they choose to likely rename the conference.

Not to mention, Rutgers is the perfect fit due to its location and huge media market. Everybody knows that whether they admit it or not. Thing is, in the Big Ten, you can take lumps week in and week out, but at least you would only have to play half of the big boys in-conference each year, not all.

DGS:  Is there anything dealing with the website that you would like to announce or talk about?

Hunt:  StateOfRutgers.com will be covering the Big Time Football Showcase on May 7th, which will take place on the Rutgers campus. There will be a ton of the top-tier talent from the Northeast region in attendance. Stay tuned to SOR to find out who is truly the best of the best.

Double G Sports would like to thank Todderick Hunt from StateOfRutgers.com for his time and insight into Rutgers football.

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