A sign of respect for the Rutgers football program after their first season in the Big Ten is the inclusion of two players in national watch lists released on Tuesday. The annual watch lists for the Maxwell Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award each included Scarlet Knights.
Leonte Carroo, a rising senior wide receiver and a U.S. Army All-American from Don Bosco, was named by the Maxwell Football Club to their annual watch list for the Maxwell Award, given to the top college football player in the nation. Carroo is a likely top 100 draft pick next spring and is perhaps the most talented pass catcher 'On the Banks' since Mohammad Sanu. Last season, Carroo had 1,086 receiving yards, second best in the conference.
The talented playmaker boasts solid route-running skills and good hands along with the ability to break tackles and get into open space.
Previous winners of the award include Marcus Mariota, last season, as well as Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy among others.
If he can remain healthy, Carroo will help the transition with an offense that loses quarterback Gary Nova, a four-year starter who established himself as an NFL prospect during his senior season.
The other candidate for a national award is Darius Hamilton, a rangy defensive end who, like Carroo, is a product if Don Bosco. Hamilton is on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award, given by the Maxwell Football Club to the nation's top defensive player. While he will need to add some weight to his six-foot-four-inch frame as he is only 255 pounds if he hopes to be a top draft pick, Hamilton is aggressive off the edge and had six sacks a season ago as well as 11.5 tackles for a loss.
He is the son of former New York Giants defensive end Keith Hamilton.
Last season in their first year in the Big Ten, Rutgers surprised many experts with an 8-5 record including three wins in the conference. They finished the year with a 40-21 win over North Carolina in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit.
The Maxwell Football Club is highly involved in promoting the sport at all levels from prep football to the NFL, both locally in the tristate area as well as nationally. Annually, the Maxwell Awards are hosted at the Tropicana in Atlantic City every March and honor the best players in the nation from high school on up to the NFL.
Last year's recipients include the aforementioned Mariota as well as Houston Texans J.J. Watt.