By Tom Luicci
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (Aug. 10, 2014) – There were two advantages that Rutgers had that made Andrew Turzilli’s decision an easy one when the wide receiver decided to leave Kansas this spring and play his final season of college football somewhere else as a graduate transfer.
One was the Scarlet Knights’ recent history under head coach Kyle Flood with players in exactly Turzilli’s situation.
Offensive tackle R.J. Dill (Maryland), punter Nick Marsh (Utah) and cornerback Lew Toler (Western Michigan) were the three previous fifth-year graduate transfers Flood had taken. All started for the Scarlet Knights in their only season at Rutgers.
“I knew they’d brought in three other guys like me and all of them came in and made an impact and played,” said Turzilli. “That made my decision a little easier, knowing they were bringing me in because I had a chance to help the team and that I would have an opportunity to play.”
Rutgers’ other advantage? One of the school’s biggest selling points: Location.
Turzilli, who starred at Butler (N.J.) High School, never once had family in the stands when he played at Kansas, home or road. His mother Kathy, a regular at his high school games, was unable to attend even a single college game her son played in.
That’s about to change.
“Being back in New Jersey was a big consideration, one of the things that clinched it for me,” said Turzilli, whose mom is planning to be at High Point Solutions Stadium when Rutgers takes on Howard on Sept. 6. “It gets kind of tough when you never have any family or friends watching you play.”
The 6-3, 195-pound Turzilli has emerged as an important player in a receiving group that took a major hit with the indefinite loss of Ruhann Peele to an upper body injury. Beyond Leonte Carroo and Peele, it’s a young, inexperienced unit.
Turzilli played in nine games, starting three, last year for Kansas and had 27 catches for 491yards during his career with the Jayhawks. He has already made an impression on offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen after 10 preseason practices.
“(Turzilli) will help us. He’s a rangy kid, probably 6-3 or better, and runs pretty good,” Friedgen said.
Yet as early as this spring – when Turzilli was still practicing with Kansas – there wasn’t even a hint he would be Rutgers-bound. A two-time second-team academic all-Big 12 honoree, Turzilli graduated in May with a degree in American Studies and suddenly started thinking about finishing college somewhere else.
“I had just finished spring ball at Kansas. I had a good spring. I would have been competing for a starting job this summer,” he said. “I honestly wanted to stay at first. But I talked to my family just before I graduated and I decided I should weigh my options, see what’s out there, see if there was another opportunity for me.
“One of my (Kansas) teammates was from Brooklyn, N.Y. and one of his trainers was friends with coach Flood. I got my release, sent my film out, sent it to coach Flood, and he called the next day and had a scholarship offer for me.
“I looked a few other schools. In the end, I guess it was a matter of being able to come home.”