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Rutgers head football coach Greg Schiano brought back the program’s annual spring training awards last season.
Last year, cornerback Robert Longerbeam won the Frank R. Burns Award, which is given to the player who demonstrates extraordinary mental and physical strength during spring training. Offensive lineman Hollin Pierce won the Mark Mills Second Effort Award, given to the most improved offensive player, and linebacker Tyreem Powell received the Douglas A. Smith Award as the most improved defensive player.
Who won the awards this spring? Find out below.
Frank R. Burns Award: TE Matt Alaimo
Alaimo has played in 33 games throughout his career and has 18 receptions for 133 yards.
“Matt has been playing this spring in a lot of pain, but he knows he’s going to have surgery at the end of the spring and he’ll be fine,” head coach Greg Schiano said. “You know, probably somewhere in the middle of June back to normal. But he could do the spring with it, and it got worse over the spring. But he’s going to go for surgery and he’ll be fine. And all he did was go to practice everyday and give up for this team we were down oh at one point well tonight we only had four tight ends on the roster The others were injured or recovering from injury.
“So there were a few times where Matt got to grabbing and I didn’t think he was going to get up, and he said, give me a minute and he got up and gave them a minute and he was fine. I knew he was in pain. But that’s part of our game, isn’t it. There’s a difference between playing with the pain and playing with the injury. If you’re not going to make it worse, then you know you’re going to need the procedure Matt made the decision to help the team, and I thought that was really, really big of him and most importantly a guy who has experience in the game. I mean, Matt has a lot of shots under his belt and he did it for the team.
Mark Mills Second Effort Award: OL Ireland Brown
Two years ago, Brown came from Boston College and played defensive tackle. Last season, he played in nine games with six starts at left guard on offense.
Ireland started the spring on guard. After four practices, we moved to center,” Schiano said. “We just thought he had that kind of fast twitch, and he did. I mean, I think he can be as good as he wants. He has really improved a lot. He did a good job in the first four practices, but from practice five he really picked up the slack. You know, centers, people take that for granted, especially in a shotgun offense. They just take that cliché for granted. Well, it’s not the easiest thing in the world. If that’s all you had to do, it’s easy. But you gotta break it, and then you gotta block somebody, and that other guy doesn’t have to break it. He just has to get on the ball. It really is a lot harder than people think. So you really have to be a very good athlete to do that, and with him and Gus, I think we have good depth in that position now.”
Douglas A. Smith Award: LB Deion Jennings
Jennings played in 34 games during his career and made 65 total tackles, 27 of which were solo including 6.5 for a loss and an interception.
“Deion is a really talented guy,” Schiano said. “Deion was unlucky with the injury. Then he needed surgery, so he missed the whole spring, last spring. He’s really made big improvements and I think he’s a Big Ten linebacker, I think so. I think he’s going to have a great season. We need everyone on deck. This room right now is light with injuries. Hopefully Mo can come back but he may not be able to and we are preparing as if he is not and if he does, so we will try to discover each stone and see if it is outside our program or even at inside our program to make sure we have enough linebacker depth to go compete for an entire Big Ten season. is definitely in the middle of those plans and he’s really made huge improvements in our 14 practices. I have no idea if he played well tonight or not. didn’t really watch but he certainly had 14 good practices.
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisNalwasky.
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