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Rutgers football showcases offseason improvements in Scarlet-White game

Junior offensive lineman Ireland Brown, senior tight end Matt Alaimo and senior linebacker Deion Jennings were honored as part of the annual Rutgers football spring game. – Photo by Rutgers Football / Twitter

As has become a yearly tradition, the Rutgers football team hosted its Scarlet-White game last Friday. The culmination of 15 spring practices came under the lights at SHI Stadium on Busch campus when the team was split into two, with Scarlet taking a 16-14 victory.

“It's a lot of fun to have everybody here and great turnout with recruits and all those kinds of things,” said head coach Greg Schiano after the game. “Overall, (we had) a really productive night and a very productive spring.”

Although some players were on pitch counts according to Schiano, a lot of players who have played minimal to no time got their chance to shine.

Sophomore quarterback Evan Simon had a significant majority of White’s plays from under center. Simon went 12-19 with 109 yards and one interception. Senior quarterback Noah Vedral went 5-8 with 80 yards and was responsible for both White touchdowns.

Vedral and White capitalized on the game’s opening possession with an 18-yard pass to senior wide receiver Taj Harris who broke away from his defender, spun toward the sideline and caught the ball as he fell to the ground. Harris spent the last four years at Syracuse, racking up 2,028 receiving yards.

Soon after, Scarlet tied the game in the first quarter off a pass from sophomore quarterback Gavin Wimsatt to sophomore running back Kyle Monangai. The quick scoring start didn’t continue past the first quarter. 

“I want to make sure everybody gets enough reps,” Schiano said. “Every player that was able to play played. So when you start really mixing and matching, I think the product dips a little bit.”

Vedral scored the other White touchdown with a 7-yard run in the third quarter.

Junior kicker Guy Fava booted home a 33-yard field goal to bring the game back in reach for Scarlet. With 1 second remaining, 11-year-old Gavin Kane was honored by the program, running in the game-winning touchdown. Kane was helped into the end zone by his father, Christian Kane, and former MLB player and Scarlet Knights legend, Todd Frazier.

While he didn’t find the endzone, sophomore running back Al-Shadee Salaam led White’s ground attack with 71 yards on five carries, including a game-high run of 37 yards. 

“He's a very talented guy. Really talented. Fast, explosive,” Schiano said. “We just have to make sure we find ways to get him involved. And he's going to earn those touches.” 

Monangai led the ground game for Scarlet with 65 yards on seven attempts, along with senior running back Parker Day who logged 58 yards on eight attempts. 

When it came to passing, Scarlet distributed the ball among eight players. Senior wide receiver Sean Ryan made some noise with four receptions for a team-high 48 yards. Ryan spent the last three seasons at West Virginia. Sophomore tight end Victor Konopka logged 31 yards on four receptions. Konopka was 1 of 4 tight ends who suited up. 

Harris made his mark on White’s passing, but senior wide receiver Shameen Jones led with 67 yards. Senior tight end Johnny Langan hauled in three passes for 16 yards. 

After the game, Schiano presented the three spring awards. Senior tight end Matt Alaimo won the Frank R. Burns award. The accolade is awarded to a player "who demonstrates extraordinary mental and physical toughness during the spring.”

Junior offensive lineman Ireland Brown won the Mark Mills Second Effort Award, which is “awarded to the offensive player who, through determination, dedication and hard work, has shown the most improvement during the offseason and spring practices.”

The Douglas A. Smith Award went to senior linebacker Deion Jennings. The honor is “awarded to the defensive player who, through determination, dedication and hard work, has shown the most improvement during the offseason and spring practices.”

Rutgers will kick off its 2022 season on Sep. 3 when the team travels to take on Boston College.

For more updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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