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Four Rutgers Football Players Earn All-Conference Honors

Paul James and Tyler Kroft were named to the first team, while Betim Bujari and Janarion Grant were named to the second team.

Credit: scarletknights.com
Credit: scarletknights.com
Four Rutgers University football players earned all-conference recognition for the first time when the American Athletic Conference announced its inaugural all-conference selections on Wednesday.

Sophomore running back Paul James, of Glassboro, and sophomore tight end Tyler Kroft (Downingtown, Pa.) were named to the all-conference first team offense.

Junior center Betim Bujari, of Secaucus, and freshman kick returner Janarion Grant (Trilby, Fla.) were named to the second team offense.

James had 833 yards rushing and nine touchdowns in eight games this season, according to the University. He led the nation in rushing through the first three weeks of the season before suffering a lower leg injury on Sept. 21 that kept him on the sidelines for six-and-a-half weeks.

He had four games in which he rushed for at least 100 yards and scored multiple touchdowns in three games: 3 vs. Norfolk State, 3 vs. Eastern Michigan and 2 vs. South Florida.

He averaged 5.7 yards per carry, good for second in school history for a player with at least 100 attempts, according to the University.

He is the first running back named first-team all-conference since Ray Rice was named to the Big East’s first team following the 2007 season.

Kroft leads the team with 40 receptions for 530 yards and four touchdowns. He is the only Scarlet Knight to make a catch in each of the team’s games this season, according to the University. He had career highs in yards (133) and receptions (6) in Rutgers’ win over Arkansas on Sept. 21, and was named the John Mackey National Tight End of the Week following that game.

He is the first tight end named to the all-conference first team since the Big East placed Clark Harris on its first team following the 2006 season.

Rutgers averaged 146.8 yards per game in the eight games in which Bujari, a preseason Remington Trophy candidate, played, according to the University. He was responsible for the clearing block downfield that resulted in a 50-yard touchdown on a screen pass in the triple overtime win over Southern Methodist on Oct. 5.

On his first touch as a college football player, Grant returned kickoff 100 yards for a score against Fresno State.

He also had a 58-yard punt return for a touchdown against Arkansas. In that same game, he returned a punt to the 33 that set up a score in the Scarlet Knights’ come-from-behind win.

He is the first true freshman from Rutgers to earn all-conference honors since Tosh Riddick in 1998.

For the full all-conference roster and other postseason conference awards, visit the American Athletic Conference’s website.

Rutgers (6-6, 3-5) caps its season on Dec. 28 when it faces Notre Dame (8-4) in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon, and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN.

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