Stepping into a major role on the offense from the get-go, freshman wide receiver Ian Strong has certainly impressed this season for Rutgers. On Saturday, Strong led all Rutgers wide receivers in receptions and receiving yards.
Strong is fourth on the Rutgers roster in receiving yards (182) and fifth with 14 receptions. For a player who arrived in January as a safety, it is a pretty strong sign of growth that on the road against a ranked Iowa team, Strong performed so well.
The Long Island athlete came to Rutgers a bit under the radar, having the Scarlet Knights as his only Power Five offer. But he has flashed this season, including Saturday’s performance against No. 22 Iowa.
“I think Ian has performed from the very beginning,” head coach Greg Schiano said on Monday.
“The opening game, I believe he made that tremendous catch, right, opening game, was it? Top-10 on — or No. 1 on ESPN, right. So I think he’s a really fine athlete.”
Schiano has been very positive about Strong’s growth and development this season. He did caution, however, that the true freshman is going through the usual bumps and bruises and fatigue of the college football season.
“You know, all of these freshmen guys, let’s be real now, it’s mid-November. They started training camp in August. Their bodies, minds, everything, are not prepared for that. Right. That’s not what high school is like. They are all at some point or another hitting the wall, and Ian is working his tail off because he’s hit the wall. He’s got things that are bothering him physically that he’s learning in college that you push through those things,” Schiano said.
“But I was very pleased that he answered the bell when JaQuae went down and showed some great toughness because he wasn’t a hundred percent, either, out there. I knew he was going to play. But I knew he wasn’t 100 percent.”