Ryan progresses in Year 2 in Schiano’s defense

practice notebook

<p>Sophomore cornerback Logan Ryan translated two interceptions,
two fumble recoveries and a defensive touchdown into second team
All-Big East honors during his first full season as a starter.</p>

Sophomore cornerback Logan Ryan translated two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a defensive touchdown into second team All-Big East honors during his first full season as a starter.

Logan Ryan cringes at the thought of the term “cover corner.” The Rutgers football team’s sophomore cornerback does not believe in it. And he said it certainly does not hold weight with the Scarlet Knights.

“I know one thing: If you’re a cover corner, you won’t start on this defense or even play on this team,” Ryan said. “You have to be a complete corner. I pride myself on being one to tackle people and going in the box.”

Ryan ranks fourth on the team with 60 tackles, which he adds to his pair of interceptions, two fumble recoveries, two fumbles forced and defensive touchdown.

His first season as a full-time starter yielded Ryan second-team All-Big East honors.

“It’s a great honor,” he said. “It definitely comes from hard work and having a great team around me, being coached great and having a great d-line. It just shows the defense I play on and the team I play on.”

Ryan arrived at Rutgers in 2009 as the state’s top-ranked cornerback prospect with a four-star rating, according to Rivals.com. He partially fulfilled the promise he showed at Eastern High School, but head coach Greg Schiano said Ryan can continue to progress.

“He can really get better. I think he’s just scratching the surface,” Schiano said. “And the fact that he loves the game and prepares the way he does, he’ll get better.”

The Knights secondary entered the season with a number of questions.

Two starters graduated and earned spots on NFL rosters. Another, junior Khaseem Greene, moved to linebacker during the offseason. Senior David Rowe, a two-year starter at cornerback, transitioned to safety. Beside Ryan, only junior Marcus Cooper had a start under his belt at his current position.

The results were Ryan’s conference accolades, junior safety Duron Harmon’s first-team All-Big East selection and Rowe’s and junior cornerback Brandon Jones’ five combined interceptions.

“We really all came in with the mentality of just putting our head down and working,” Ryan said. “We really play for each other back there and for the whole team, so I’m happy about that.”

Senior defensive tackle Justin Francis continues to rehabilitate from a laceration he suffered in his right leg against Connecticut.

Schiano said Francis is fine after practicing Saturday. But the fifth-year senior still has to take precautions during practice to keep his leg at full-go, Francis said.

“Coach stays on me about, ‘Let’s get it pumping in practice,’” he said. “I’m always doing calf raises in practice just to keep the blood circulating in my leg. I’m running around, flying around, doing drills in practice, out of practice. I’m receiving treatment on a consistent basis.”

Junior tight end D.C. Jefferson continues to rehab from a left knee injury he suffered in the Knights’ win against Cincinnati, Schiano said.

“I think he’ll do more and more. I think he needs to do more and more,” Schiano said of Jefferson. “We’ll get him there.”

The Rutgers coaching staff held Jones out of practice again Saturday and welcomes him back for Wednesday’s practice, Schiano said.

Jones still suffers from an unspecified injury, one he continues to play through during the season, Schiano said.

“[Jones] is OK,” he said. “We’re resting him. He’s a tough kid. There are not a lot of people that would do what he did all year. And he’s done it effectively.”

Schiano welcomes the All-Big East selections as an opportunity to see how other league coaches evaluate the Knights’ talent, he said.

But the 11th-year head coach got a head start on the evaluation process during the offseason, when he hired former Pittsburgh assistants Brian Angelichio, Frank Cignetti and Jeff Hafley.

“It was interesting when Brian, Frank and Jeff came,” Schiano said. “That’s one of the first things we did was evaluate our personnel from their standpoint. Before they got here and got to know them, ‘What do you guys think of us?’ You don’t get that very often.”

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