By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – When Sam Bergen came to Piscataway, he never thought the first collegiate start would be at fullback. But after redshirting his freshman year while recovering from his second knee surgery in high school and not seeing the field last season, he just wanted a chance to play. So when Kyle Flood approached him in the spring to switch from middle linebacker fullback, Bergen gladly obliged.
“It was definitely a challenge in the spring because I barley played fullback in high school,” Bergen said. “It was a whole new world coming over from defense, but I’m confident right now in all of my responsibilities.”
Which have vastly increased the past two weeks. After starting fullback Michael Burton (lower leg) went down against Arkansas and will miss the remainder of the season, Bergen was thrust from into the starting role.
Yes, Beau Bachety was listed as the co-starter in depth chart released at the beginning of the week for the UConn game, but Bachety is a fifth-year senior walk-on tight end who’s merely adding depth to the position. Not to mention learning the position on the fly.
“Some of the stuff out of the two tight end sets we do has been pretty similar,” Bachety said. “But as far as some of the stuff out of the backfield, it’s been a change, so I’m just trying to learn it everyday.”
Even with the depleted and inexperienced unit – neither Bergen or Bachety have a collegiate stat – and Rutgers being a team that likes to utilize it’s fullback, the starting quarterback isn’t concerned.
“Obviously Burton’s a great player in this offense. He does a lot of things that a lot of fullbacks can’t do in the country,” Gary Nova said. “But I feel like we have a lot of guys that will step in and do the job that he did.”
The first man up is Bergen. Even if he didn’t see the first start of his college career coming on the offensive side of the ball.
“It’s not how I pictured it, but if an opportunity comes up you have to be ready to jump on it,” Bergen said. “I feel I’m more than ready right now and I’m just going to be focused on doing my job.”