Spotlight Knight: Tyshon Fogg
When the Rutgers football team welcomes Maryland on Saturday, the southernmost-located team in the Big Ten in SHI Stadium's first Big Ten game of the season, it will be a homecoming-esque matchup for five student athletes from the state.
Junior linebacker Tyshon Fogg was offered a scholarship by his home state Terrapins (2-2, 0-1) out of Calvert Hall College High School, approximately 50 miles outside of the University of Maryland's campus in College Park. But, he chose to commit to former head coach Chris Ash's first recruiting class on the Banks, a class that included fellow junior linebacker Rashawn Battle and Maryland native, senior defensive back Damon Hayes.
Fogg had offers from three other Big Ten schools aside from the two teams playing in Piscataway this weekend — Indiana, Iowa and Michigan State. But, it was Ash and his first of two defensive coordinators, Jay Niemann — who currently helps coach the Hawkeyes' defensive line — who made the push to hone in on the out-of-state Fogg.
Fogg was a standout recruit coming from Maryland. The 6-foot-1-inch Fogg was considered a top-10 player in Maryland, checking in at No. 6 according to ESPN. He was also the second-highest-rated rated player at the outside linebacker role, according to Rivals.
Since Fogg strapped on his pads on the Banks, he has made his name known as a Scarlet Knight (1-3, 0-2). Arriving to Rutgers in 2017, he appeared in six contests as the "will" linebacker, the weak side defender who lines up against a tight end in defensive packages.
During his freshman season, which coincided with Ash's best record (4-8, 3-6) in three seasons and four games at his post, Fogg saw time as linebacker in five conference games, tallying seven tackles against the Hoosiers and even picking off Morgan State quarterback DeAndre Harris on Sept. 16, 2017. That interception was the first of Fogg's career in his first game as a Knight.
During his sophomore season, Fogg emerged more as an everyday player, consistently seeing time at the linebacker spot during all 12 games. Fogg, who is in the School of Arts and Sciences majoring in human resource management, was named a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, prior to the start of the 2018 season.
Similarly to his freshman year, where he tallied a season-best tackles total on the road, Fogg again had one of his best performances away from SHI Stadium. In one of the Knights' closest games in East Lansing, Michigan, a game where Rutgers led in the fourth quarter, Fogg had eight tackles, three of which were solely made by him.
Fogg has consistently established himself as a speedy defender, skilled at tackling his opponents. At Calvert Hall College High School, a private all-boys Catholic school in Baltimore, Fogg starred as a four-star recruit, helping the team to a 7-5 record in his senior year. That season, he also had 49 tackles and an interception.
But, this season, Fogg has emerged as a leader of the defensive side. Prior to the start of this season, Ash had named the junior as a team captain along with fellow linebacker junior Tyreek Maddox-Williams on the defensive front. Fifth-year senior offensive lineman Zach Venesky and junior running back Raheem Blackshear are the offensive captains on the other side of the ball.
Fogg had a career game against Boston College, in the Knights' second non-conference game of the season, posting a career-high 15 tackles. He paced the team for the third consecutive game into the early 2019 slate.
This year has been an adjustment year for Fogg and the rest of the linebackers as a whole. When defensive coordinator Andy Buh joined the program from Maryland in the off-season, it marked the second straight changeover at the defensive post since Fogg entered Rutgers' system.
The defensive coordinator on the Banks has traditionally helped coach the linebacker unit. While it takes a certain amount of time to adjust to new defensive schemes, the linebackers have consistently been rotating as a unit each game.
"We all rotate throughout this unit every other drive," Fogg said. "At the end of the day it gives us a break and we just keep on performing well. We just keep getting better as a unit, as well."
While Fogg will take the field against his hometown team, he will have the opportunity to be reunited with several friends of his.
His high school teammate, Chance Campbell, is one year below him and plays the same position as the junior Knight. Campbell has seen time in each of the Terrapins' four games this season.
But, Fogg will have the chance to tackle one of his friends from Maryland on the offensive side: running back Anthony McFarland Jr., who was named to the Second Team All-Big Ten last year. McFarland Jr. has scored five touchdowns on the season, finding the end zone in every game except the Terrapins' shutout loss against Penn State.
"I know a lot of guys on the team," Fogg said. " Campbell was a linebacker I played next to two years in high school. (McFarland Jr.) is another guy I'm really close with. Can't wait to play against those guys."
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