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Austin, Hampton to represent Rutgers at NFL Scouting Combine

Senior defensive backs Blessuan Austin and Saquan Hampton will represent the Rutgers football team at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine, from Feb. 26 to March 4 at Lucas Oil Stadium.

This year marks the second consecutive year that a Scarlet Knight is selected to the Combine and the first time since 2016 that two players represent the Banks in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Alumnus defensive lineman Kemoko Turay was Rutgers’ lone representative last year. He bolstered a 4.65 time in the 40-yard dash and was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the second round with the 52nd overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Austin enters the Combine after undergoing season-ending knee surgery — only playing in the Knights’ first game and single win of the season against Texas State on Sept. 1. His season ended a year ago the same way.

The 6-foot-1-inch safety has not played a full season since his sophomore year in 2016, when he played 11 games. Austin was one of the top defensive backs in the nation then, ranking No. 2 in the Big Ten and 12th nationally with an average of 1.8 passes per game. 

He was named an All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2016 for totaling a career-high 41 tackles and deflecting 15 passes — the first Rutgers defensive back to do so since 2012. Austin also was 1 of 7 different players to intercept then-Ohio State starting quarterback J.T. Barrett.

In Austin’s career, he recorded 67 solo and 89 total tackles, four interceptions and 23 deflected passes. In his freshman season, he returned a 50-yard interception for a touchdown.

A Queens, New York native, he played four positions at Milford Academy: cornerback, safety, quarterback and wide receiver. Austin was selected to the First Team All-Queens. He threw for 578 yards and rushed for 682 yards, accumulating nine touchdowns. 

Hampton, a fifth-year senior and a team captain, participated in all 12 games at safety this season and made up for the injured Austin by tying for the Big Ten lead for average passes defended per game, with 1.3. His 13 pass breakups this season were the most of any Knight. 

He finished with a team-leading 36 tackles in pass coverage this season.

Like Austin in 2016, Hampton was also named an All-Big Ten honorable mention last year. He also earned the Homer Hazel Award, given to the team’s most valuable player.

In four seasons on the Banks, Hampton made 177 total tackles, recorded five interceptions, 24 pass deflections and recovered one fumble.

Hampton ended last season with 44 solo and 65 tackles, both career-highs, as well as three interceptions. He captained a Rutgers defense that ranked 20th nationally in stopping opponents’ passing game. The team held opposing offenses to an average 186.7 yards per game and totaled nine interceptions.

A Hamilton, New Jersey native, Hampton attended Nottingham High School and went to the Central Jersey Group IV semifinals. In South Jersey, he was named to the First Team All-Group IV, as well as the First Team All-South Jersey.

For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @SchmiedJake and @TargumSports on Twitter.

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