As a true freshman, Rice finished the season as the starting tailback for Rutgers. Rice rushed for 1,120 yards and five touchdowns during his freshman campaign, including a 217-yard performance against the Connecticut Huskies and a 195-yard performance against the Cincinnati Bearcats.
As a sophomore, Rice gained 1,794 rushing yards with 20 touchdowns. His rushing totals set Rutgers’ single-season rushing yardage record, shattering J. J. Jennings’ mark of 1,353 set in 1973. Rice’s backfield partner during his freshman and sophomore seasons was fullback Brian Leonard. Leonard considered entering the NFL Draft in 2006 but stayed for his senior year and took on a less prominent role in the offense which aided Rice’s rise to stardom. Rice was a finalist for the Maxwell Award and finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy voting. Rice was named Big East offensive player of the week a school-record three times in 2007. All three times, Rice rushed for over 200 yards, 201 yards against North Carolina, 202 yards against South Florida, and a career-high 225-yard game against the Pittsburgh Panthers. Rice ended his sophomore season with 170 yards on 24 carries with one touchdown during the inaugural Texas Bowl to give Rutgers its first bowl victory ever in a 37–10 win over Kansas State. He was named MVP of the game.
Rice was widely considered a candidate for both the Maxwell Award and Heisman Trophy in 2007.
On October 6, 2007, against the Cincinnati Bearcats, Rice scored his 35th career rushing touchdown, which set the all-time program record. On November 9, 2007, against the Army Black Knights, Rice ran for 243 yards and scored twice in the 41–6 victory, setting a new school record previously set by Terrell Willis in 1994, and his new single-game record. On January 5, 2008, at the second annual International Bowl in Toronto, Rice ran for a new school record of 280 yards, along with four touchdowns as Rutgers defeated Ball State 52–30. One of the touchdown runs (90 yards) was the longest of his career. Rice won the MVP award for his performance. Following the season, Rice declared his intention to enter the 2008 NFL Draft.
Pondexter attended college at Rutgers University. She led the Scarlet Knights to a 97–22 record and back-to-back Big East Championships in 2005 and 2006. She competed in four NCAA Tournaments, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2005. During the 2005–2006 season, Rutgers compiled a 27–5 record, including a 16–0 record in Big East Conference play. Pondexter took home several awards, including the 2006 Women’s Basketball News Service National Player of the year. In her career, the guard scored over 2,000 points.
Rutgers was among the first American institutions to engage in intercollegiate athletics, and participated in a small circle of schools that included Yale University, Columbia University and long-time rival, Princeton University (then called The College of New Jersey). The four schools met at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in Manhattan on October 19, 1873 to establish a set of rules governing their intercollegiate competition, and particularly to codify the new game of football. Though invited, Harvard chose not to attend. In the early years of intercollegiate athletics, the circle of schools that participated in these athletic events were located solely in the American Northeast. However, by the turn of the century, colleges and universities across the United States began to participate.
The first intercollegiate athletic event at Rutgers was a baseball game on May 2, 1866 against Princeton in which they suffered a 40–2 loss. Rutgers University is often referred to as The Birthplace of College Football as the first intercollegiate football game was held on College Field between Rutgers and Princeton on November 6, 1869 in New Brunswick, New Jersey on a plot of ground where the present-day College Avenue Gymnasium now stands (although the game was based more on soccer than on rugby, unlike the current version of American football, which takes its rules from a rugby-based framework). Rutgers won the game, with a score of 6 goals to Princeton’s 4. (roughly 36-24 currently) According to Parke H. Davis, the 1869 Rutgers football team shared the national title with Princeton.
College Sports Established
Piscataway, New Jersey
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
1973 – Present / NCAA Division 1
1921 – 1973 / University Division of the NCAA
1907 – 1921 / Athletic Association of the United States
2014 – Present / Big 10
1995 – 2014 / Big East Conference
1976 – 1995 / Atlantic 10 Conference
1861 – 1976 / Independent
1958 – 1961 / Middle Atlantic Conferences
1851 – 1958 / Independent
1946 – 1951 / Middle Three Conference
1866 – 1946 / Independent
Scarlet Knights – In its early days, Rutgers athletes were known informally as “The Scarlet” in reference to the school color, or as “Queensmen” in reference to the institution’s first name, Queen’s College. In 1925, the mascot was changed to Chanticleer, a fighting rooster from the medieval fable Reynard the Fox (Le Roman de Renart) which was used by Geoffrey Chaucer’s in the Canterbury Tales. At the time, the student humour magazine at Rutgers was called Chanticleer, and one of its early arts editors, Ozzie Nelson (later of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet fame) was quarterback of the Rutgers team from 1924 to 1926. The Chanticleer mascot was unveiled at a football game against Lafayette College, in which Lafayette was also introducing a new mascot, a leopard. However, the choice of Chanticleer as a mascot was often the subject of ridicule because of its association with “being chicken.” In 1955, the mascot was changed to the Scarlet Knight after a campus-wide election, beating out other contenders such as “Queensmen”, the “Scarlet”, the “Red Lions”, the “Redmen” and the “Flying Dutchmen.” Earlier proposed nicknames included “Pioneers” and “Cannoneers”. When Harvey Harman, then coach of the football team, was asked why he supported changing the Rutgers mascot, he was quoted as saying, “You can call it the Chanticleer, you can call it a fighting cock, you can call it any damn thing you want, but everybody knows it’s a chicken.” Harman later is said to have bought the first “Scarlet Knight” mascot costume for the 1955 season, which was to be his final season as football coach at Rutgers.
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