Team health remains a top storyline for Rutgers as the team begins its game-week preparations in Orlando, Fla., for the Russell Athletic Bowl.
Head coach Kyle Flood announced, while still in New Jersey, that fifth-year senior cornerback Brandon Jones would be available for the bowl game. Jones practiced in full today and is expected to resume his starting role Friday evening.
“[Jones] wasn't limited in any way and I thought he looked good running around with the pads on today,” Flood said. “I think he'll be ready to go.”
Freshman kicker Kyle Federico (hip) – from Ponte Vedra, Fla. – kicked today and made a 47-yarder, Flood said. Where redshirt freshman Nick Borgese was expected to continue as the starting place kicker, the gap is narrowing between the two.
“Borgese didn't look great today,” Flood said. “He looked like his back was a little bit stiff. But Federico looked good. He hit a 47-yarder. I don't know what that means. We'll work that out as the week goes on. But other than that I think we're in pretty good shape. I think we looked good running around out there.”
Flood expects Andre Civil and Taj Alexander to both work at right guard Friday against the Hokies, he said.
“I think they'll both play early in the game,” Flood said. “That'll be one I think we feel out as the game goes along. I do feel like Andre is 100 percent. I think he's fully recovered. He looks good running around. So I don't have any reservations about him playing in the game. But I am pleased with how Taj has played as well. So I think we'll give them both an opportunity to play early in the game.''
With a roster full of Florida players, the chance to practice in the home-state is a Christmas gift to those players and it provides an interesting recruiting opportunity.
Though it is a dead period, recruits can visit Rutgers practices to watch. Lake Mary (Fla.) tight end Taylor Marini is set to visit for practice, he told ScarletReport.com, and will also be in attendance Friday at the Russell Athletic Bowl.
“I think it's a tremendous reward and a tremendous experience for the players currently on our team that are from Florida,” Flood said. “And we have quite a few. Guys like Jawan Jamison, Kaleb Johnson, D.C. Jefferson, have been in our program for a long time. Kenny Kirksey certainly plays a lot of football for us.
“I think what you see is they get excited when they come down here. It's a great opportunity for them and their families, or maybe their extended families to see them play live. Certainly for the players we're currently recruiting in Florida it gives them an opportunity to see us down here and know that, 'Hey, if Rutgers is the right fit for me, if Rutgers is where I choose to go, I know that I may have an opportunity to come down here again and play in Florida in front of their friends and family.''
Keith Sargeant of Gannett New Jersey contributed to this report.
Also, here is video shared by Gannett New Jersey