Rutgers vs. Wake Forest Gator Bowl: New Jersey connections

Even before Rutgers was called upon to replace Texas A&M in the Gator Bowl, there would have been considerable representation from New Jersey in Jacksonville.

The Scarlet Knights face a team in Wake Forest on Friday at TIAA Bank Field (11:00 am, ESPN) that features several players from across the state, including several who have made a substantial impact for the Demon Deacons in their 10-3 seasons.

Here’s a look at the local players who are on Wake Forest’s roster:

Donald Stewart, WR

Hometown: Elisabeth

High school: Catholic Paramus

The 6-4, 210-pound Stewart tallied 31 passes for 345 yards with one touchdown this season as Wake Forest’s fourth-best receiver. Stewart moved to Wake Forest from Stanford ahead of the 2020 season as a graduate transfer. Ranked # 16 in New Jersey and # 105 in the 2016 recruiting class by 247Sports Composite Rankings, Stewart chose Stanford from a long list of offerings that also included Boston College, Michigan, Auburn and Rutgers.

Ja’Sir Taylor, DB

Hometown: Asbury Park

High school: Brick township

Taylor’s fifth season with the Demon Deacons has been the best. The 5-10, 185-pound defensive back made 54 tackles (two for loss) with two interceptions in 13 games. He has five breakage passes and three fumble recoveries. Taylor also returned eight kicks for 210 yards – he ran a 99-yard return for a touchdown in a season-opener win over Old Dominion.

Isaiah Wingfield, DB

Hometown: Burlington

The school: Lawrenceville school

Wingfield has appeared in all 13 games and has 11 tackles. He transferred from Harvard to Wake Forest last December. Wingfield was named All-Ivy League First Team his junior season after making 40 tackles with 1½ sacks, five missed passes and one interception.

Chase Jones, LB

Hometown: Warren

High school: Preparation of Saint-Pierre

In his third season with Wake Forest, the 6-1 / 1, 231-pound Jones racked up 42 tackles (two for a loss) with two forced fumbles and one pass break. Jones has 79 tackles as a Demon Deacon.

Wake Forest linebacker Chase Jones, left, breaks a pass intended for Army running back Tyrell Robinson (21) during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, October 23, 2021 in West Point, NY (AP Photo / Adam Faim)

Will Towns, RB

Hometown: Jackson

High school: Jackson Memorial

The 5-foot-11, 197-pound Towns have played in each of Wake Forest’s last four games as a true rookie. Towns signed with Wake Forest after a remarkable career at Jackson Memorial, where he rushed for 1,327 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight games in a pandemic shortened season in 2020. Towns has been ranked a three-star prospect. and Rookie # 19 in New Jersey for the 2021 recruiting class, according to 247Sports Composite Rankings.

Will Smart, DL

Hometown: Milford

High school: Delbarton

The 6-foot-4, 281-pound rookie has seen time in one game this season. Smart played four games last season and had five tackles (two for losses) with a sack.

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Thomas Grippo, OL

Hometown: Kinnelon

High school: Preparation of Seton’s room

Grippo has seen the time in four games this season, his second with Wake Forest. The 6-foot-3, 279-pound Grippo had a distinguished high school career at Seton Hall Prep, where he was named All-Essex County First Team Defensive Lineman. Grippo had 30 tackles with a sack as a senior.

Christian Forbes, OL

Hometown: Plainsboro

High school: Lawrenceville School

Forbes, 6-foot-4, 276 pounds, has appeared in two games this season. The second-year offensive lineman signed with the Demon Deacons as part of the Recruiting Class of 2019. He was ranked as the # 35 rookie in New Jersey by the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Anthony Borriello, DB

Hometown: Red bank

High school: Catholic Red Bank

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Boriello hasn’t played a game this season. The real freshman played both quarterback and safety for Red Bank Catholic. Borriello threw for 800 yards and six touchdowns in six games in the shortened 2020 season. He also had eight tackles and one interception on defense.

Email: [email protected] Twitter: @chrisiseman

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