Rutgers University, the state university of New Jersey, hosted the first intercollegiate football game in history when it defeated Princeton in 1869. Nearly a century and a half later, the school still maintains a historic tradition in the sport and its gridiron lineage has included many athletes from our region.

The Scarlet Knights current roster includes Absegami graduate Ben Martin, Egg Harbor Township alum Tejay Johnson and Glassboro native Paul James. Last week, Lower Cape May Regional senior wide receiver Vance Matthews announced his intentions to join the program this summer as a preferred walk-on player.

Recently, Rutgers’ roster included former South Jersey standouts Jack Corcoran (St. Joe’s) and George Johnson (Glassboro High School), who each used their careers as Scarlet Knights to springboard onto rosters in the National Football League.

For the past eleven years, the man maintaining the bridge between Rutgers’ home base in Piscataway and the southern portion of the state was head coach Greg Schiano. The veteran play caller approached iconic status in New Jersey just a few years ago, when he led a long-suffering Scarlet Knights program to national prominence and coached up current NFL starters like Ray Rice, Devin McCourty, Kenny Britt and Anthony Davis along the way

Schiano is no longer the face of the program, as he departed this January to accept the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coaching position.

His replacement – longtime Rutgers assistant Kyle Flood – recently joined me for a discussion on The South Jersey Sports Report on 97.3 ESPN FM. Coach Flood spoke about Rutgers’ current direction and how he plans to maintain the team’s strong ties with South Jersey’s high school football programs

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