Toran is far more outgoing than his friend and former roommate, Alexander, and consequently has received more attention in the press. Nevertheless, Burns insists, "Nate's definitely a bona fide All-America, not a press-clip wonder. He's the most enthusiastic player I have ever come in contact with." Alexander doesn't begrudge Toran the extra coverage. "I'm getting enough publicity that the pro scouts are looking at me," he says quietly, "and that's what counts." At 6'2" and 250 pounds, Alexander is a quarter of an inch taller, 25 pounds heavier and a step faster than Toran, and the pro scouts are indeed giving him a longer look.
Offensively the Scarlet Knights were less awesome. Last year they lost their starting quarterback, Bert Kosup, for the season with a torn shoulder muscle. Rutgers stumbled through its first four games, including losses to Princeton and Lehigh. Then Burns, who was known as "Flinging Frank" when he quarterbacked the Scarlet Knights in the '40s, turned the job over to sophomore Jeff Rebholz, who led the team to wins in its last seven games. In the process Rutgers set a school record for total yardage.
This season Rebholz and Kosup battled evenly for the quarterback job until the week before the first game. On the eve of Rutgers' opener, Rebholz suffered a fractured cheekbone, not on the playing field but on the boardwalk in Asbury Park, N.J., where he was mugged by three youths. He was sidelined for the Scarlet Knights' first three games. Kosup took full advantage. He denied Rebholz a second chance through the simple expedient of establishing his own winning streak, which now, of course, stands at 11.
The Scarlet Knights' biggest concern this year was whether they could replace All-East Fullback Curt Edwards, who averaged 105 yards a game last season. Rutgers was unimpressive offensively in its opening two games. Then Burns inserted a 175-pound sophomore, Glen Kehler, a backup at one of the halfback spots, at fullback. Kehler responded with three straight 100-yard games and Rutgers started clamoring for national attention. It finally came when the Scarlet Knights were ranked in both major polls. Next year they may get a bowl, too.