1. When you think about college football, Rutgers certainly isn’t one of the first schools that come to mind, but the Scarlet Knights hosted the first game in college football history on Nov. 6, 1869 against Princeton.
2. Greg Schiano was the youngest head coach in Div. I-A football when Rutgers hired him in 2000.
Now at age 40, entering his sixth season, he’s signed a contract extension through 2012. His primary recruiting focus? Many of his top players aren’t local – they’re from Florida. There are 24 Florida natives on the roster.
3. The 2005 season was a historic one for Rutgers football. The 7-5 record was the first winning season for the program since 1992. The invitation to the Insight Bowl (a loss to Arizona State) was the first bowl berth in 27 seasons.
4. Rutgers returns seven of 11 starters from last season on both offense and defense. The biggest losses were the starting quarterback, leading wide receiver, and two defensive ends that combined for 34 tackles for loss and 20 sacks.
5. This is a team with elite talent. There are six Scarlet Knights on national award “Watch Lists” – versatile fullback Brian Leonard, tight end Clark Harris, center Darnell Stapleton, free safety Courtney Greene, defensive tackle Ramel Meekins and kicker Jeremy Ito.
6. Not included among the aforementioned six is KR/PR Willie Foster, the 2005 Big East Special Teams Player of the Year. Last season he averaged 24.5 yards on kickoff returns and 10.9 yards on punt returns – and returned one of each for touchdowns.
for 164 yards (10.9 per return) and one TD.
7. Also not among the preseason honorees is tailback Ray Rice, named a freshman All-American last season. Leonard and Rice combined to average 155 rushing yards per game a year ago. Rice totaled 1,120 yards and five TDs, while Leonard (ranked the No. 1 fullback in the nation by analyst Phil Steele’s preseason publication) added 740 yards and 11 TDs. Leonard also had 55 receptions for 568 yards and six TDs. In total, the two accumulated 2,493 yards and 22 TDs.
8. Ryan Hart set numerous records during his career at Rutgers, leaving big shoes to fill by his replacement this season, Mike Teel. The redshirt sophomore saw action in nine games last season, including three starts. Teel completed 50.5 percent of his passes and had only two touchdowns against 10 interceptions.
Despite those stats, Schiano says he has complete confidence in Teel – naming him the starter early on – though acknowledging he is the team’s biggest offensive question mark. "Offensively, the most unknown quality is the quarterback," Schiano said. “Mike's totally capable, but he's got to do it."
9. Harris is expected to be Teel’s top target. As the team’s leading returning receiver, the senior tight end – a two-time all-Big East selection – has 109 career receptions, including 584 receiving yards amidst a diverse offense last season. Harris is ranked the No. 1 tight end in the country by Lindy’s, while also being ranked No. 2 by The Sporting News and No. 3 by Phil Steele.
10. Rutgers is 2-0 all-time versus North Carolina, with both games at home – and both results shutouts. The Scarlet Knights beat UNC by scores of 5-0 in 1894 and 19-0 in 1919.