In his first collegiate game of his football career and his first drive on offense for the Rutgers football team, freshman receiver Ian Strong made an immediate impact on the field in a win against Northwestern on Sunday.
On 2nd and 10, with just 11 yards to go for a score, the high school safety-turned-wideout ran a post route to the back corner of the endzone. With two defensive backs behind him, Strong corralled in a beautifully lofted pass from junior quarterback Gavin Wimsatt and managed to tap one foot down in bounds.
The officials initially called the catch incomplete, but after further review, they confirmed the Scarlet Knights' (1-0, 1-0) suspicions and reversed the call to a touchdown. When it was confirmed that Strong made the catch with a foot in bounds, the Rutgers sideline was jubilant.
"I was waiting for the moment, and the moment came fast," Strong said. "I took advantage of it."
Most freshmen playing in their first collegiate football game would be jittery, but Strong kept his composure.
"I was just playing the game. The ball kind of came to me, so that's really it," Strong said.
Wimsatt, the other player on the passing end of the touchdown, knew for sure that Strong got a foot down.
"What's crazy is he's made plenty of plays like that during training camp," Wimsatt said. "So, him doing that, it doesn't surprise me. Especially his first game, his first Big Ten game. It was a great catch."
The freshman believes the relationship between him and Wimsatt improved after the win over the Wildcats (0-1, 0-1). Strong said Wimsatt's calm demeanor helped relax him in his first collegiate game.
"(The connection between us) got better today. (Wimsatt) just throws the ball really well," Strong said.
Later in the first half, Wimsatt and Strong connected for a 13-yard pass after the latter was able to bring in a tipped pass. After the game, Wimsatt expressed his confidence in Strong as one of his receivers.
"He's obviously grown from the spring, and I think he's just doing a great job of being intentional every day and growing as a receiver."
Wimsatt and Strong's highlight reel score made its way onto the SportsCenter Top 10 Plays list as the number one play.
"A couple of my family members sent it to me," Wimsatt said. "It was pretty cool."
"It was really exciting," Strong said of his season-opening score. "First touchdown of the season. I felt amazing. Nothing more I could ask for."
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