Position Analysis: Linebackers

Rutgers returns two of its three starting linebackers, but has some inexperience when it comes to depth. ScarletReport.com continues its series as it looks at the linebacker position, and some of the possible moves within the unit that could alter the look of the group for the 2010 season.

On a defense where the line lost three starters and the secondary lost a pair of starters, the most proven depth sits at linebacker.

But, how will that depth be configured when 2011 training camp commences.

Sophomore Steve Beauharnais played middle linebacker last season after making the move from strong-side linebacker, and at times struggled with the demands of the position. He told ScarletReport.com late in the season he was getting used to the mental approach of needing to set the defense, then transferring it to physical aspect play after play.

There is a very good chance he can remain there for his junior season, but there is an interesting possibility to tinker with the linebacker unit by moving red-shirt junior Manny Abreu to the weak side and shifting Beauharnais to the strong side so he can cover the tight end.

If that happens, junior-to-be Ka'lail Glaud could be moved to middle linebacker, where he was as a freshman and then practiced as a backup after injuries took a toll at the position last season.

Beauharnais is the quickest and most athletic of the three, but the real question is whether a season allowed him to adjust to the speed of the game in the middle, or if he is better suited on the outside, then be one of the linebackers in the nickel set and the linebacker in the dime package.

If Beauharnais stays in the middle, Glaud could play strong-side while Abreu plays on the weak side.

Behind that trio, though, sits a wealth of inexperience despite Antonio Lowery being the only senior to log significant playing time. The only other linebackers who should factor into the equation with any kind of experience are red-shirt sophomore Marvin Booker and sophomore-to-be Marcus Thompson, although he played mostly special teams last season.

And since Thompson spent part of his first season at Rutgers at defensive end, there is a possibility he will be back there in the spring. When it comes to the middle linebacker spot, Rutgers has a pair of freshmen in Sam Bergen and David Milewski.

Bergen didn't play last season as he recovered from reconstructive knee surgery, which took place in November 2009. And, when he was recruited, there was talk about playing him at fullback, so that option exists.

Milewski was making a move on the depth chart and could have played before a torn anterior cruciate ligament ended his season. He is not expected to be 100 percent for spring practice, which will hurt his development, but he should be ready for training camp.

Fred Overstreet was a late addition to the 2010 class, and could work his way onto the depth chart at either strong- or weak-side linebacker.

Freshmen walk-ons Justin Mills and Shane Meisner will also try to work their way off the scout team. Currently on the roster is Al-Ghaffar Lane, who was a fourth-year junior in 2010 but has not factored into the rotation.

Rutgers also has commitments from a trio of linebackers in Kevin Snyder of Cumberland Valley (Mechanicsburg, Pa.), Andrew Campolattano of Bound Brook (N.J.) and Quentin Gause of Bishop Kearney (Rochester, N.Y.), with Snyder and Gause being the most ready to compete for playing time as freshmen.


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