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Rutgers Football: Tight End Preview

August 16, 2018

Washington Rutgers

Here is the preview of the Rutgers University tight ends, featuring Jerome Washington ’12, from David Anderson of On the Banks.

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Key players returning: Jerome Washington (RSr.), Max Anthony (RJr.), Nakia Griffin-Stewart (RJr.), Travis Vokolek (So.)

Can they be even more productive?

The tight end group was required to take on a big role in the passing game in 2017. They along with fullback Max Anthony totaled 13 of the team’s entire reception total. It would be difficult to expect them to handle that percentage of the load again, although 45 receptions could be matched, especially if the wide receivers can stretch the defense and allow more completions on intermediate routes.

On the blocking front, improvements by everyone else in the group should be able to offset [the loss of Myles Nash] if Anthony returns to full strength. Washington and Griffin-Stewart both have the frames to be good blockers and demonstrated willingness to do their part last year. They are all consummate team players and some of the most valuable players on the entire roster.

Can they make more plays in short yardage?

If there was one weakness for the group it was in short yardage situations. With Rutgers beleaguered passing attack, opponents sent everyone to the line in short third down situations and near the goal line.

Of the group, each member should be able to bring a skill to the table that offensive coordinator John McNulty can take advantage of. Washington knows how to get open and has incredible strength even when defenders are draped all over him, so well placed balls form the quarterback are almost guaranteed catches. McNulty got a lot of mileage from his TEs and FBs the first time around and may have an even more talented group this time. They should be able to get more than two touchdowns this year.

Best case, worst case, and most likely scenarios?

Best case: Washington impresses NFL scouts by making even more spectacular plays and duplicating or exceeding his team-leading 28 catches for 282 yards. Griffin-Stewart becomes a valuable contributor and runs away from a few linebackers.

Worst case: Without Nash, Washington’s additional blocking responsibilities lead to him getting more banged up.

Most likely: The tight end group does more of the same but contributes a few more touchdowns. Washington is the same as 2017, giving himself a shot at the next level.

Player Preview: #88 Jerome Washington (6’4″ 258 lbs.) Senior

Washington is the real deal, the best tight end at Rutgers since Tyler Kroft as a receiver and possibly a better blocker at the college level. He led the team in catches and yards despite three quarterbacks throwing the ball. Unless he completely disappoints in 2018, he’ll be in an NFL training camp in 2019.

Long term outlook.

This group is set in 2018 and also lined up well in 2019 even though Washington will graduate and likely move on to the NFL. If Washington’s nagging injuries get more severe, the rest of the group should still be serviceable as a Big Ten group. Coach Okruch made huge strides with this group as blockers and should be able to continue with the next set of personnel as the group is projected to lose one guy each year allowing constant re-injection. If McNulty sticks around, a few more NFL careers should be launched as they were during his first stint.

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Rutgers

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Washington Remains Rutgers’ Most Proven Receiver

August 16, 2018
Washington Rutgers

Washington vs. Maryland last season

Here is the latest on Jerome Washington ’12 from John Otterstedt of ScarletNation.com.

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Rutgers has returned its leading receiver from a year ago as senior tight end Jerome Washington is the most accomplished pass catcher on the team heading into the 2018 season. Washington finished with 28 catches last season and is looking to improve on that number in his final year as a Scarlet Knight.

“I am definitely more mature,” Washington told Scarlet Nation. “I understand that I need to really prepare myself and know what I am doing in terms of scheme and being able to read defenses. It is a lot more important to me now than it was last year because I wasn’t necessarily as mature last year. But now that I understand, I am more ready to really go out there.”

Washington is joined at the tight end position by Travis Vokolek and Nakia Griffin-Stewart as that unit appears to be one of the team’s biggest strengths. In a new offensive system run by coordinator John McNulty, Washington talked about the new roles of the tight ends.

“We are used a lot of different ways in terms of the pass game and the run game. It is just important to know what we are doing, know our assignments, study defenses, watch a lot of film and improve every day. It is definitely an important part of the offense because we are used in so many different ways and we have a lot of things we have to know and be able to read and see before it happens, so it is important to prepare.

“We have a lot of things on our plate, especially as tight ends in terms of the pass game and the run game, so I am definitely excited to be able to showcase the pass game and the run game attributes to our skills. It is definitely fun.”

And what has it been like working with McNulty, who was the tight ends coach for the Los Angeles Chargers last year?

“He is a great coach. He coaches us to be the best that we can be,” Washington said of McNulty. “He definitely pushes me to be the best that I can be every day. And I know that I have to just prepare every day. I can’t come out to practice not knowing what you are doing, so you definitely have to prepare.”

On a Rutgers offense where the wide receivers are unproven, the passing game may become even more tight-end friendly. And that is also a group that seems to be rather unified.

“I think we are all very good friends. we are all very close,” Washington said of the tight ends. “The room is very tight-knit. We all just get along and push each other, which is a good thing in the room. I definitely just try to build up my teammates. If I see something that I have seen before in terms of a certain play that could help one of my teammates, I will definitely point it out to them and help them. But I think we all try to watch each other when we are not in at that time. We all watch each other and critique each other so we can all get better.”

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Rutgers

Liotine & Seawolves on a Title Hunt in 2018

August 10, 2018

Don Liotine ’13, running back for the Stony Brook University football team, had a career year a season ago in helping to lead the Seawolves into the second round of the FCS Playoffs. Liotine led the team with 11 total touchdowns (10 rushing/ 1 receiving), including a pair of scores in a 59-29 playoff blitz over Lehigh. Today the team hit the brand new LaValle Stadium turf for media day and Kenny DeJohn of Newsday was on hand for the event:

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Running back Donald Liotine doesn’t like selfies. Luckily for him, there’s nobody on the Stony Brook offense who simply worries about himself.

The Seawolves, fresh off a 10-3 season that culminated with a loss to top-seeded James Madison in the second round of the Division I Football Championship playoffs, took to the LaValle Stadium turf Friday in their red uniforms for team photos and media day.

Liotine, a senior, recorded 1,486 all-purpose yards last season for a team that averaged 29.2 points per game. He figures to share time in the backfield with senior Jordan Gowins, who scored six touchdowns last fall.

“When you have more guys at one position that you have to account for as a defense, it makes it that much more difficult to defend them,” Gowins said. “It would be hard to just sit talent on the bench while you have one player playing. That just doesn’t make sense.”

Depth is a key for Stony Brook, especially in the backfield. Making up for the loss of Stacey Bedell, who graduated, won’t be easy, but Liotine, Gowins and Buffalo transfer Kameron Pickett could be explosive as a group.

Coach Chuck Priore acknowledged the team’s “positive depth,” but he said that “reps will be appropriated based on performance [on] the practice field.”

“We do a good job of attacking in multiple ways and kind of mixing up what you think we’re coming with,” Liotine said.

Liotine attributed some of the offense’s success to practicing against Stony Brook’s defense, a unit featuring strong linebackers in Noah McGinty and Shayne Lawless, as well as defensive back Gavin Heslop. They held opponents to 20.6 points per game last season.

“It’s almost frustrating in practice, but it makes Saturdays easier for us,” he said.

A “mentally tough” team, according to Priore, the Seawolves have their eyes set on taking the season game by game. But Liotine described the end goal best.

“I think we drive off ourselves,” he said. “We want to be great. We want to win championships. Who doesn’t?”

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SBU

On This Day In History | 1987

August 8, 2018
O'Haire

O’Haire and the ’95 U.S. Pan American team

On this day 31 years ago, Jon O’Haire and the USA men’s field hockey team topped Bermuda, 3-0, in the first round of the 10th Pan American Games held in Indianapolis, IN. Here is the recap of the game from Bill Dwyre of the LA Times.

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The Day the Goalie Took it Easy: Field Hockey Team Doesn’t Allow Shot on Goal in 3-0 Win

Guys like Gump Worsley and Tony Esposito would have been proud of Jon O’Haire Sunday. Maybe envious. That is, if they had any idea what field hockey was.

O’Haire is the goalie for the U.S. field hockey team in the Pan Am Games. His game is played on a field of artificial turf 100 yards long and 60 yards wide. It is kind of like ice hockey on grass, or lacrosse without the helmets and the funny scoop sticks.

It is usually played in front of crowds consisting of mom and dad and whichever relatives can be blackmailed into showing up. Since the standard uniform is shorts and knee socks, the most common comment from the casual fan afterward is how cute the players’ knees were.

So it was in that inauspicious setting that O’Haire, of Los Angeles, found his own little corner of athletic history. His U.S. team beat Bermuda in a first-round game, 3-0. And not only was the game a shutout. The U.S. team did not allow a shot on goal. That’s right. None. Zero. Zilch.

Granted, this is not the NHL. Or World Cup in soccer. Or even the MISL.

But for anybody who plays or watches sports that have, as a last line of defense, a goaltender, that statistic is mind-boggling.

Coach Ric Purser of Thousand Oaks took the semi-casual approach to the statistic:

“Well, that sure doesn’t happen very often,” he said.

O’Haire, trying and failing to remember if and when it had last happened to him, said: “It happens. . . . I guess it happens. Not a lot, really, but sometimes against weaker teams. . . . The last time might have been the last Pan Am Games in Caracas. We’ve been playing stronger teams since then, so it wouldn’t happen then.”

The amazing thing about O’Haire’s game was that he did little to contribute to it. In fact, it could be argued that he did nothing, but then that gives him no credit for staying awake and at least semi-alert for two 40-minute halves while his nine teammates scampered around in the distance, slapping at a hard round plastic ball. At least they could amuse themselves. O’Haire didn’t even have a good book handy.

Purser summed it up well afterward when he said, “This was not a classic game to watch. Bermuda can’t play at all.”

And O’Haire said, “They only got the ball in our circle (a fairly large attacking area adjacent to the goal) two times.

“When that is happening, you have to play (mental) games . . . to keep in the game. I try to predict the play, what’s coming next. And I yell a lot to my teammates.”

No matter what the circumstances were of O’Haire’s amazing day, an argument could be made that he had one coming. His road to Sunday’s special moment has been quite rocky.

A graduate of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, he took up the sport just months before the 1983 Pan Am Games in Caracas.

“I saw a field hockey game sometime in 1982 on ESPN,” he said. “I had played a couple of sports as a goalie, things like soccer and lacrosse. And when I was in high school, my soccer team used to play a game against the school’s field hockey team. So I had kind of an idea of what it was.

“And when I saw the game on TV, they said that it was a sport that not too many people knew about, or participated in.”

So O’Haire made a few phone calls, found that a field hockey official, John Green, was looking for a goalie for his team in Connecticut. And O’Haire’s career was off and kicking. For a while.

He played goalie on the ’83 Pan Am team that finished fourth, dropping the bronze medal game to Chile, 1-0. And when the hotbed of the sport shifted from the East to California–mostly the San Fernando Valley–and with the ’84 Olympics set for Los Angeles, logic told O’Haire to go West.

So he did, taking a job as library purchasing agent with The Los Angeles Times, a job he still holds today, when he’s not competing nationally and internationally. And he was all set to stay on as the U.S. goalie for the Olympics.

But he didn’t make the team.

“I was kind of a rare bird in field hockey, because I was left-handed and I was playing goalie that way,” he said.

After spending a frustrating summer of ’84 watching, rather than competing in, the Games, O’Haire did what any self-respecting left-handed field hockey goalie would do in that situation: He trained himself to play right-handed.

“It was pretty tough at first . . . really kind of strange,” he said. “Mostly, I taped my left arm to my side and learned it that way.”

Lipsher and Stiles are out of field hockey now and O’Haire is the goalie of the future for the U.S. program. And that could be especially meaningful if the team wins a gold medal here, or wins at least the silver behind Argentina, but ahead of Canada. A gold medal would put the U.S. team in the Seoul Olympics. A silver ahead of Canada might very well do it, too, since Argentina has already qualified and doesn’t need the Pan Am berth even if it wins it.

For O’Haire, that would be very nice, very special. In fact, his teammates might even let him touch the ball once in awhile.

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O’Haire and the U.S. team went on to win bronze at the games with a 3-2 win over Chile, one of 83 bronze medals won by the Americans as part of their 370 total medals. Cuba was second in the medal count with 175. The medal was the team’s first since the U.S. took bronze in 1967 and was one of three consecutive bronze medals along with third place finishes in 1991 and 1995. O’Haire was also a member of the 1995 squad.

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1987 Pan American Games

Odom Signs with Nizhny Novgorod

August 6, 2018

Odom Nizhny Novgorod

In the middle of July, Rod Odom ’09 signed his fifth professional basketball contract, inking a deal with Nizhny Novgorod of Russia. The club plays in the FIBA Europe Cup as well as the VTB United League along with twelve other clubs from Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, and Poland.

This is Odom’s fifth professional team including KAOD (Greece) in 2014-15, Virtus Bologna (Italy) in 2015-16, Astana (Kazakhstan) in 2016-17, and Levallois (France) in 2017-18. Last season Odom averaged 10.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game for Levallois.

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Nizhny Novgorod

Washington on Wolverines’ Radar

August 4, 2018
Washington Rutgers

Washington pulls in a catch vs. Eastern Michigan last year

Football camps began on college campuses all over the country this week, prompting renewed excitement over autumn Saturdays filled with tailgates, rivalries, and gridiron glory. Plenty of previews have begun flooding the internet and over at the popular Michigan Football blog, Maize N Brew, they previewed the Wolverines’ most feared opponent at each position. They selected our Jerome Washington ’12, as the tight end most likely to keep Jim Harbaugh up at night, ironing his khakis.

Here is what Sam Dodge had to say about Washington:

The Enemy’s Best Shot: Michigan’s Opponents Best Starters on Offense

TIGHT END – Jerome Washington, senior, Rutgers

Washington is an impressive prospect. At 6-foot-4, 258 pounds, the former Miami Hurricane demonstrates surprising nimbleness for his size.

To manage 28 catches for 282 yards in Rutgers’ offense is almost worthy of a Heisman. He’s a capable blocker, as well, shown here handling an impressive Washington pass rush:

Washington and the Scarlet Knights open the season on Sept. 1 vs. Texas State.

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Rutgers

On This Day In History | 1990

August 4, 2018
Whitney 1979 XC B

Whitney running for the Brook in 1979

On this day 28 years ago, Andy Whitney ’79 won the second of three qualifying races for the Mercedes Fifth Avenue Mile. Running for the New York Athletic Club, the former Brooker covered the Central Park course in a time of 4:25.

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New York Athletic Club NYAC

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