Like Maryland, the Scarlet Knights are the newest members of the Big Ten for the 2014 season. After a forgettable 6-7 season a year ago, the Rutgers football product may not transfer well to their new conference -- at least for the first year.
However, in order to be somewhat competitive (or perhaps surprise), the Scarlet Knights will need to rely on these three key players for the 2014 season.
Steve Longa - Linebacker
Predicted as a Phil Steele All-Big Ten first teamer and First Team Freshman All-American by Sporting News , there is no denying the talent that true sophomore Steve Longa brings to the Scarlet Knight defense in 2014.
Originally from Cameroon, he was just recently introduced to American football.
As a true freshman, Longa was all over the field. Recording over 120 tackles and three sacks, he recorded 14 tackles in a 55-52 overtime victory over SMU. Although he wasn't very active in the pass defense category, that number should change in the future once Longa becomes even more acclimated to the collegiate level.
If Longa can come anywhere close, or better, than his 2013 form, he could be having a monster year in 2014.
Leonte Carroo - Wide Receiver
Although the season stats for junior receiver Leonte Carroo's 2013 campaign don't exactly jump out at you as impressive, he is arguably the surest best at stability at receiver for now. If it weren't for missing the last three games of the season due to a head injury, the numbers would be more impressive.
Finishing 2014 with only 28 receptions for 478-yards and nine touchdowns, he was clearly Rutgers best receiver option last season as well as heading into this season. It was clear he was going through a breakout sophomore season and is ready to build off that with a clean bill of health.
Measuring at six-foot-one, Carroo isn't necessarily going to beat you with size, but his speed is something that will need to be schemed around. If he continues trending upwards, he could be in for a nice junior year.
Gary Nova - Quarterback
Though not necessarily guaranteed a starting spot in 2014, it is clear that senior quarterback Gary Nova is Rutgers best chance for success.
The 2013 numbers weren't pretty, even missing the final three games of 2013. He threw for over 2100-yards with 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Combine that with being sacked 25 times, there is definite room for improvement on the ground.
Combine a poor season with a quarterback who has plenty of game experience heading into a new conference, he could definitely be headed in the right direction for 2014.
According to Youtube, Nova is also a wrecking ball. Sorry, Miley.