Moments before the first kickoff of the new season, Rutgers placed a well-timed public relations statement in the wild where it would surely be lost in the shuffle. In it, Rutgers announced it has dismissed five players recently arrested and charged with assault.
Nadir Barnwell, Dre Boggs, Ruhann Peele, Delon Stephenson and Razohnn Gross have all been dismissed from the program, effective immediately. Barnwell is the one connected to the ongoing investigation of head coach Kyle Flood with regard to alleged direct contact of a professor to discuss Barnwell’s eligibility. Stephenson was listed as a starting free safety for the Scarlet Knights. Both Boggs and Peele were listed as potential starters at defensive back (both appeared on the same spot on the depth chart with “or” between them). Barnwell also had starting experience with the program, which adds to the size of the dent in the defensive secondary depth for Rutgers. That means Rutgers is losing four possible starters from its defense.
Rutgers should manage to get by Norfolk State this afternoon, but the losses in the secondary will be a much larger problem in the coming weeks. Rutgers hosts Washington State next weekend, with Mike Leach and his Cougars always opting to go through the air. Rutgers will hope to have the secondary in better shape when it heads on the road to open the Big Ten season the following week. Rutgers visits Penn State, with quarterback Christian Hackenberg hoping for a bit of a rebound season this fall.
Well, I suppose now we know what all the commotion was about at Rutgers practice today.
Of the four Rutgers students and two former students charged today with assaulting a group of individuals, five are Rutgers football players and another is a former player. The assault left one student with a broken jaw and the attack was reportedly unprovoked. A total of nine defendants were arrested today, and one more is still to be arrested. Five players confirmed to have been charged are defensive backs Ruhann Peele, Nadir Barnwell, Dre Boggs and Delon Stephenson and fullback Razohnn Gross. Barnwell is the player linked to the separate ongoing university investigation of head coach Kyle Flood, who was allegedly contacting a professor about Barnwell’s eligibility status. Boggs and Stephenson were projected starters for Rutgers this weekend. All five of the current players have been suspended from the program while the legal process develops.
The former player arrested was Tejay Johnson, who was charged with robbery, criminal restraint, theft, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Johnson’s career was cut short due to injury in 2014 prior to Big Ten media days.
According to a report from NJ.com, the arrests come as a result of an ongoing investigation by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Brunswick Police Department. The investigation commenced in the spring following a reported home invasion in New Brunswick. Per the report, three men wearing masks forced their way into the home and left with an undisclosed amount of cash and marijuana as five students were held at gunpoint.
At this point there has been no statement from Rutgers regarding this latest news, although this post will be updated as soon as there is a statement to share.
You have to love half-game suspensions against FCS opponents. That is what Rutgers has handed to quarterback Chris Laviano and star wide receiver Leonte Carroo. Laviano and Carroo will each serve a half-game suspension when Rutgers takes the field next week in the season opener against Norfolk State. Both will be eligible to return in the second half, and Rutgers hopes to avoid needing either to have an impact in the second half when they do. A curfew violation reportedly is what led to the mild suspensions.
In addition to the suspensions of Laviano and Carroo, linebacker Kevin Marquez, punter Tim Gleeson and cornerback Ruhann Peele will also serve half-game suspensions.
The loss of Carroo is the most notable, as he is one of the best wide receivers in the Big Ten. He believes he is the best. Fortunately, the half-game suspension will be served against the weakest opponent on the schedule for Rutgers, so the impact of his loss will be minimal given the circumstances.
With Laviano now out of the quarterback mix at Rutgers, for a half at least, Joe Schad of EPSN.com reports Hayden Rettig will assume command of the offense. The two had been competing for the right to replace Gary Nova. Rettig is a transfer from LSU who sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.
In the meantime, Rutgers could have other problems on its hands with head coach Kyle Flood reportedly under investigation for allegedly contacting an academic instructor directly using his personal email account.
(Alliteration, it’s fun for the whole family, especially in the offseason!)
In early November, Rutgers suspended Ruhann Peele for the remainder of the 2014 season following an off-field incident. Nearly three months later, he’s back.
According to both nj.com and ScarletScuttlebutt.com, the wide receiver has been reinstated to the football program and can now resume participating in team activities. RU has yet to announce public Peele’s status with the team.
In late August, Peele was arrested and charged with simple assault after it was alleged that he had pulled the hair of a female accuser and scratched her face. That charge was dismissed in December after the alleged victim failed to show for a court appearance, which helped pave the way for Peele’s return.
Peele had not played the first nine games of the 2014 season because of an unspecified upper-body injury. He was medically cleared prior to the 10th game, which triggered the suspension.
In 2013, Peele finished fifth on the team with 28 catches for 478 yards. He was third on the team that season when, due to injuries, he was moved from receiver to cornerback in late October for a handful of games.
Entering spring practice back in the good graces of the football program, the redshirt sophomore is expected to be a significant contributor in the passing game in 2014.