Rutgers reports for practice again seeking respect

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Rutgers offensive lineman Chris Muller called his team ''the Rodney Dangerfield of the Big Ten.''

''We don't get any respect,'' Muller said, referencing the late comedian's famous line. ''But once again we're just going to have to prove everyone else wrong.''

A year after exceeding expectations in their inaugural Big Ten season with eight wins capped off by a bowl victory over North Carolina, the Scarlet Knights haven't lost that chip on their shoulder.

Rutgers faces another daunting conference schedule that includes games at home against Michigan State, Ohio State and Nebraska along with trips to Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan.

After missing most of last season with an ACL tear, running back Paul James set the tone for his senior season. Standing up at a team meeting after the bowl game, James made it clear eight wins wasn't enough, and the team goal should be 10.

''It's been highly publicized of what our goals are and how we want to move this program and our goals are to take this program to places we haven't been,'' coach Kyle Flood said Sunday, when Rutgers reported for training camp.

''Now we want to go to New Year's Day bowl games, (Big Ten) Eastern Division championships, Final Four appearances, national championships,'' he added. ''Those are the places this program hasn't been and places that we're building towards.''

As practice opens Monday, all eyes will be on the quarterback. Flood said he'd like to make a decision seven to 10 days into camp

With the graduation of Gary Nova, redshirt sophomores Chris Laviano and Hayden Rettig are competing for the position. Flood said Laviano - who played in five games and completed 11 of 28 passes for 107 yards and an interception in mop-up duty - was slightly ahead after spring practice.

''I don't really think about it that way,'' Laviano said. ''I think about preparing for camp and the season and just working hard and developing a really good relationship with the O-line, receivers, running backs, essentially the whole team. Just trying to be a leader and earn respect in the locker room and as the quarterback, you got to be that guy.''

Meanwhile, Rettig, who sat out last year after transferring from LSU, is looking to play his first game since his senior year of high school.

''I just feel like I have to keep getting better on the field with the offense and in the QB room and keep doing what I'm doing,'' Rettig said.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.