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September 2, 2011
The cheers were present Thursday evening after Savon Huggins plowed forward for three yards on his first career carry a little more than halfway through the first quarter, a noticeable ovation honoring more so the precocious tailback's presence on the field than the play itself. Still, the focused freshman said he wasn't aware at first was going on.
"Like I said, I didn't really hear it," Huggins revealed. "I guess it's a blessing, all my hard work is paying off. It's nice to have the home crowd supporting me. We're all into it. You could see we were vibing up the fans."
Huggins (10 carries, 32 yards) jumped into the fray as the third tailback tonight, behind junior starter De'Antwan Williams and red-shirt freshman Jawan Jamison. He made a quick impact, scoring the team's first points of the season on a one-yard plunge with 38 seconds remaining in the opening stanza.
He would add a second touchdown with 8:58 before halftime, this one coming from seven yards out.
"I was happy to just get points on the board, that was pretty much it," Huggins said. "We didn't have any points in the beginning, we messed up a little so when I scored I was happy to get six on the board. That was really pretty much it. I wasn't happy I scored my first touchdown, I just wanted to get points on the board."
With his two scores on the night, Huggins became the first freshman since Rutgers legend Terrell Willis in 1993 to find the end zone twice in a game during his freshman season.
Huggins, who had never heard of Willis, was grateful for the opportunity to dent the RU record book early in his career.
"I never really thought about it that way; I guess it's an honor," Huggins said. "It's a blessing for me to even be put in this position to be able to do that. Like I said before camp and everything else we have, the summer workouts, has prepped me for this day. I'm just going to continue to get better every day."
His debut performance has given Huggins a solid base to build off of for the rest of the season, and he intends on getting right back to work tomorrow.
"I think I did pretty well; there were some things I can improve on," Huggins said. "When I go back into the film room tomorrow I can see what we can all improve on, but I think I did pretty well tonight I won't know what I need to improve on until I look at film tomorrow. That's what I'm looking forward to. I'll get some rest tonight and tomorrow we'll go back to the drawing board and take it from there."
Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano also liked what he saw out of Huggins.
"It was really good to see Savon show that burst; the lights went on and he was flying around," Schiano said. "Now we have to get his pads lower, we have to do a lot of things that we do with young running backs, but you see he's got some pop."
On paper, next Saturday's meeting with North Carolina could carry extra meaning for Huggins. Back in February, when Huggins made his decision to become a Scarlet Knight, he did so by first putting on a North Carolina cap, before removing it to reveal the familiar Block R.
Nevertheless, he said his recruiting history adds nothing to next week's matchup.
"Recruiting is over for me; I really don't think about it that way," Huggins said. "I feel as if, I came to the game when I was getting recruited by both schools, but Rutgers almost beat them. So I feel that we have the opportunity to go out there, with all the weapons we have, and impose our will on them. That's what I'm looking forward to."