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Dating back to the Greg Schiano head coaching era, the Rutgers football program has served as a factory for NFL defensive backs.Since then, that trend has continued under the direction of Kyle Flood.The Scarlet Knights have six defensive backs currently playing on Sundays — seven if you include Chicago Bears linebacker Khaseem Greene, who was a prized safety when he played on the banks. The most notable Knight in NFL lights is the New England Patriots’ safety Devin McCourty, who boasts two Pro Bowl appearances and a new Super Bowl championship ring thanks to the Patriots' victory over Seattle back in February. McCourty's twin brother, Jason, is entering his seventh year at cornerback for the Tennessee Titans after recording 85 tackles and making three interceptions in 2014.Two other former Knights now reside in New England as well.
Anytime an offensive line loses 114 career starts between three of its veterans, filling those holes is easier said than done.Gone is the trio of Betim Bujari, Kaleb Johnson and Taj Alexander that anchored the Rutgers football team’s offense in the trenches throughout the past three years. In comes a jumbled rotation sprinkled with inexperience and question marks.
Sophomore quarterbacks Chris Laviano (left) and Hayden Rettig (right) have been battling for the starting spot all spring.
Senior tackle Keith Lumpkin said that although the offensive line is young and in question, the offense could end up better than last year's.
Senior defensive tackle Darius Hamilton leads a loaded Rutgers defensive line into the final day of spring camp tonight in the Scarlet-White game.
Despite being listed as the backup at the strong safety, Kiy Hester's presence has been felt during spring camp. The redshirt-freshman said he feels at home.
Paul James has been out of practice for the entire spring. The senior running back suffered a torn right ACL at Navy on Sept. 20.
When head coach Kyle Flood took the podium to field
questions from reporters after the Rutgers football team’s first week of
practice on April 4, he made one point loud and clear.“If anybody on this football team can do a better job of the
person that’s starting, then they’re gonna get an opportunity to do it,” he
said.Position battles have been ongoing from long before the
first day of practice even began in late March, but one two-man race seems as
if it has begun to near its midway point on the track.From the moment Gary Nova tossed his final pass in the Quick
Lane Bowl on Dec.
As Hayden Rettig dropped back to pass, John Tsimis bursted his way off the line of scrimmage and bolted downfield.Busting it on a double-move to the outside, Tsimis began to
streak down the sideline with two defenders following closely on his trail.
Rettig’s ball floated into the narrow opening, cutting through the flailing arms
of the defensive backs and into the outstretched hands of his wide receiver.Tsimis held on for the acrobatic catch, and Carlton
Agudosi’s reaction told it all.“I was hyped, man, because, John John, he’s always making
plays,” Agudosi said.
Junior wide receiver Carlton Agudosi attributes his offseason growth to a supporting cast that he says has kept him calm and patient for his next opportunity. Entering his third season of eligibility, Agudosi has just 10 receptions for 79 yards on his career at Rutgers.
While his main duties project to be out of the slot, junior wide receiver John Tsimis said he feels comfortable lining up outside on offense for Rutgers if needed.
Two years after the Rutgers football team’s defensive
backfield was gashed for 312 yards per game, the unit appears to have gained
some serious depth.Even with junior cornerbacks Anthony Cioffi and Nadir
Barnwell seeing limited action spring camp continues, the looks of the Scarlet
Knights’ secondary offers a preview of an area that has gone through a pivotal
turnaround.When the defensive backs were torn to shreds as opposing
quarterbacks completed an average of 63.5 percent of their passes, Rutgers
presented a portion filled with inexperience and rid with injuries.With seven underclassmen listed on the depth chart,
inexperience still remains.
Redshirt-freshmen Kiy Hester is making a push for a starting role at one of the safety spots for the Knights. Hester is entering his first eligible season on the banks after transferring from Miami.
When the Rutgers football team became the first program to
extend a scholarship offer to Jarrett Guarantano, a 40-team race for the young
quarterback’s talents got underwayFor the next four years, elite programs from all over the nation tracked the progress of the kid from Lodi, New Jersey, pitching recruiting sales to him from left and right.On Wednesday afternoon at Bergen Catholic High School, that
recruitment came to an end.Surrounded by friends, family, coaches and media in Oradell,
N.J., an emotional Guarantano propped an orange snapback onto his head
when it came time to make a decision.
As he continues to gather playing experience, junior defensive end Quanzell Lambert said he hopes to leave an impact on the young Rutgers defensive linemen.
Pinned on the one-yard line with the end zone at its back,
sophomore quarterback Hayden Rettig trotted to the line of scrimmage with the
first team offense.As artificial crowd noise bounced throughout the Indoor
Practice Bubble, the Rutgers football team ran through its unique 11-on-11
drill near the end of practice.With spring camp more than halfway over now, the
implementation of situational practicing like this are exactly what senior
defensive lineman Dewany Mera expects as position battles continue to heat up.“It’s more intense,” he said.
Returning for his senior season, Leonte Carroo leads a mixed bag of talents for the Rutgers receiving corps.
Junior wide receiver Carlton Agudosi heads up field after hauling in a pass on Saturday at High Point Solutions Stadium.
Junior JJ Denman will return to his right tackle position on the offensive line after missing the final four games last season due to injury.