N.J.’s top scholastic player commits to Rutgers men’s soccer

New Jersey’s top-rated scholastic player from last fall, Brian Hawkins, has signed his National Letter of Intent to join the Rutgers men’s soccer program for the upcoming season (NJ.com, Feb. 23).

“Brian has the ability to come in and be an impact player for us,” said Dan Donigan, the Scarlet Knights’ sixth-year head coach. “He has great pace, he’s very explosive off the dribble, can finish and score goals. I am expecting him to come into our midfield and/or forward line to help our attack. I feel as though Brian can become a great two-way player for us and his potential is sky high.”

Hawkins scored a school-record 35 goals while recording 11 assists last season for Notre Dame High School. With that performance on the field, the 5-11, 165-pound forward was named NJ.com boys soccer Play of the Year for 2014.

“I chose Rutgers because it gives me the best of both worlds,” Hawkins said in a statement. “I can achieve a great education and play high level soccer at a Big Ten school that is close to home.”

Along with Hawkins, the Scarlet Knights received letters of intent from six other players for the 2015 season.

QB Jarrett Guarantano takes second visit to Rutgers in a week

Jarrett Guarantano, a high school quarterback from Oradell, N.J., took a second visit to Rutgers in just a week’s time when he checked out the campus on Wednesday (NJ.com, Feb. 19).

The Bergen Catholic junior visited the home of the Scarlet Knights with his father, Rutgers Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Jim Guarantano.

While Guarantano has the chance to check out the football facilities in his last visit, this time it was about seeing what the student life would be like.

“The purpose of getting down there today was just giving him an opportunity to see the campus, everything pretty much non-football related,” Jim said. “You know, every time he’s been down there throughout the years, we’ve just pulled into the Hale Center and that’s been it. So he finally said, ‘You know what, it’s time for me to see the dorms, its time for me to see the campus and everything other than the football facilities.’ So thats what today was all about.” To read more of this story, click here

McCourty twins return to Rutgers for charity campaign

Jason and Devin McCourty might have their hands full with successful NFL careers – and in Devin’s case, the Lombardi Trophy – but the brothers still have time to visit their alma mater in Piscataway, NJ (Rutgers, Feb. 16).

The twins will return “home” to the Scarlet Knights campus Feb. 21 with their “Tackle Sickle Cell” campaign, a cause that holds a personal significance.

“It started because of personal experience as far as us going through it we had to be tested to see if we had the gene because our aunt had the disease,” said Devin. “Just remembering that and what we had to go through and seeing our aunt kind of traumatized us a little bit. As we got older we’ve watched our aunt deal with the disease and she still deals with it today.”

The brothers’ visit to Rutgers will be packed with events including a blood drive and casino night on Saturday as well as an autograph signing session at the RAC before the 5:15 start of the men’s basketball game against Indiana on Sunday.

“It starts with the people first,” said Devin. “It’s the people who make Rutgers as an institution, as a football program, what it is. I always love going back because I know everyone, whether it’s the coaches, the training staff, the conditioning staff. I know them all. They are people who made a big difference in my life and of me making it where I’m at. It’s always important to see those people and remember how important they have been to you in your life.

“So it’s always fun doing those kinds of things for Rutgers fans. The tough thing is that it’s only an hour (for signing autographs), so there are going to be a lot of disappointed people. But you do what you can do.”

Jason does all he can to catch as many Rutgers football games, even during the NFL season. And while the two return to campus with a purpose, they’re excited to be able to see the people who helped them get their careers off the ground.

“So many people at Rutgers played a large role in our lives and had a major impact on us,” Jason said. “So you always want to go back, even if it’s just to say hi, update them on what you’re doing or to see how they’re doing.

“I think for us Rutgers will always be a special place. When we signed our letters of commitment we were 17 years old. From 17 through the next four or five years, those were huge development years in our lives. It shaped us and molded us into the men we’ve become. We’ve been fortunate to have success in the NFL on and off the field and Rutgers played a huge role in that.”

Arkansas v Rutgers

Gary Nova training with Jay Fiedler

After capping off his senior season with the Scarlet Knights, QB Gary Nova is training with former Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Fiedler to keep his NFL hopes within reach (Asbury Park Press, Feb. 12).

“I was very excited,” Nova said. “I’m soaking in all the information that he’s teaching me: Footwork, separating my lower body from my upper. I’m really just continuing things that Coach [Ralph] Friedgen taught me.”

Friedgen is responsible for Nova’s turnaround season which earned him team MVP honors and a win at the Quick Lane Bowl. But with Nova away from Rutgers and Friedgen not returning as the offensive coordinator, the NFL hopeful has started training at BMartin Sports and Parabolic Performance & Rehab with Fiedler.

“He certainly has all the tools to get into (NFL) camp, whether it’s through a draft pick or as a free agent,” Fiedler said. “He is certainly a guy that will get a lot of looks from teams and be a wanted commodity.” To read more of this story, click here

Jarrett Guarantano to visit RU Wednesday, despite coaching changes

Jarrett Guarantano was disappointed to hear offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen wouldn’t be returning to the Scarlet Knights football coaching staff next season, but the Rutgers top 2016 recruit is still looking forward to his visit to campus Wednesday (NJ.com, Feb. 11).

While the 6-3 quarterback is looking forward to his visit, he took to twitter to express his feelings after the news broke about “The Fridge”.

“And there goes another Offensive Coordinator I really liked,” Guarantano tweeted.

But Rutgers has little to worry about, as the No. 4 QB in the country is excited about Friedgen’s replacement as well.

“I really like coach (Ben) McDaniels, a lot,” Guarantano said. “He’s a coach that will definitely prepare you for the next level considering they run an NFL system.”

Most importantly for the Scarlet Knights, when asked if the coaching change could affect Rutgers’ chances of attaining him, he said “not one bit.”

Former RU Baseball player and Cincinnati Reds agree to deal

Former Rutgers Baseball player and current Reds third baseman, Todd Frazier, has agreed to a deal with Cincinnati (ESPN, Feb. 8).

Frazier and the Reds reached an agreement Sunday on a two-year, $12 million contract. The 28-year-old attended Rutgers for two years before leaving in the midst of his junior season with the Scarlet Knights.

He avoided a salary arbitration hearing with the new deal, though he had been seeking $5.7 million in arbitration.