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October 7, 2013It is a big week for Rutgers football with so much riding on this Thursday night's matchup against Louisville. From Rutgers football to basketball to recruiting, we start off another week in the scarlet nation with The Monday Morning Kickoff.
A view from the gridiron (Rutgers football)
It's a busy week in the world of Rutgers football with very little down time.Twenty four hours after the Scarlet Knights pulled off a 55-52 3 OT win against SMU in Houston, they were back out on the practice field for a Sunday night session inside High Point Solutions Stadium.
"It was really our Tuesday practice in preparation for Louisville, a tremendous opponent," Flood said after last night's practice. "Coach [Charlie] Strong is as good as a coach as there is in the profession, probably the best quarterback [Teddy Bridgewater] in the country. One of the more talented teams in the country in general."
Louisville is ranked 8th in the country and the 5-0 Cardinals have been installed as 17-point favorites in Thursday night's game against the Scarlet Knights.
"I don't really look at the spread like that," said starting linebacker Kevin Snyder. "Now that I know it, it's not a bad thing because I think we are going to surprise a lot of people."
The big story coming off Saturday's RU win was the emergence of true freshman running back Justin Goodwin, who helped carry Rutgers to victory with 149 rushing yards and 73 receiving yards against SMU.
"My coaches prepared me well for this week," Goodwin said on Saturday. "I think the offensive line did a great job. They opened up so many holes and creases and I was able to exploit them."
With Goodwin and Paul James, Rutgers has a one-two punch at running back that is averaging an impressive 7 yards per carry. The duo has racked up 766 rushing yards good for an average of 153.2 yards per game this season.
Rutgers will also get back one of its key defensive players this week as linebacker Jamal Merrell will start against Louisville. Stay logged onto Scarlet Nation for more from the practice field later today as Rutgers will take to the field for another session later this morning.
The inside scoop (Rutgers recruiting
The recruiting week begins with a forthcoming decision from Jacksonville (Fla.) Raines cornerback Lamont Simmons. A 6-foot-2, 185-pound cornerback, Simmons has amassed an offer list into the double digits, but now says he is ready to announce his commitment.
He will choose between four schools---Rutgers, Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia Tech---tonight.
As reported last week, Simmons already has an official visit scheduled to Rutgers after his decision date. He'll be in Piscataway for the Houston game on October 26. The Scarlet Knights have been recruiting Simmons for some time.
"Coach Ron Prince, he's a great coach," Simmons said of his primary recruiter. "I keep in contact with him and he shows a lot of love."
Simmons' most recent visit was to Georgia Tech a few weeks ago, and at the time, the Yellow Jackets looked to be the front runner for his services. However, GT already has five defensive backs committed, and it is unclear if they will take a sixth.
With Rutgers firmly in the mix for Simmons, stay tuned to Scarlet Nation for the latest in Simmons' recruitment and his decision.
Tomorrow, in-state defensive tackle prospect Kevin Wilkins of St. Joseph's Regional (Montvale) will be on campus for an unofficial visit. Wilkins earned his Rutgers offer last Monday and has the Scarlet Knights on top of his list heading into the visit.
Wilkins will have the opportunity to take in Rutgers' final practice before the Louisville game, and get an in-depth look at the program. If all goes well, there is a strong chance he commits to the Scarlet Knights.
Should Wilkins join the RU program, he will be reuniting with multiple familiar faces.
"My boy Kiy Hester, he is committed there already," Wilkins said. "And I used to play with Gary Nova, Razohn Gross, Darius Hamilton and Leonte Carroo when I was at Don Bosco. It would be great to play with those guys again."
Wilkins plans to announce his decision on Tuesday. Stick with Scarlet Nation for the full report on Wilkins' visit and the latest developments on his situation.
The take from center court (Rutgers basketball)
As his team began its first full week of practice for the 2013-14 season, Rutgers head coach Eddie Jordan added his first commitment for the class of 2015 Wednesday night, when Raleigh (N.C.) Broughton High School swing man Austin Burnette made his pledge.
The 6-foot-6, 205-pound Burnette chose Rutgers over offers from Jacksonville, Kennesaw State, Western Carolina and Charlotte. He had also attracted interest from Illinois, VCU, Monmouth and St. Joseph's (Pa.), among others.
Burnette said his unofficial visit to campus the weekend of the Norfolk State football game was what sealed the deal for him.
"It was the culture and the environment on my visit. I loved the culture and the fans behind the school," Burnette said. "I loved the fact that [head] coach [Eddie] Jordan played there and he's going to have everyone in New Jersey behind him. I love the coaching staff and the system that he's going to run."