The Scarlet Knights are moving back to a physical running game while opting for more speed in the linebacker unit and secondary.
The most notable changes are:
- Jeremy Deering from receiver to running back
- Jordan Thomas from running back to cornerback
- Khaseem Greene from free safety to weakside linebacker
- Steve Beauharnais moving from middle linebacker to strongside linebacker
- David Rowe moving from cornerback to safety
- Aaron Hayward from receiver to running back
- Junior Solice moving from defensive line to tight end
- Rashaad Knight will move from corner to safety
- Anthony La Lota moves from defensive end to defensive tackle
- Joe Martinek from running back to fullback
- Steve Beauharnais from middle linebacker to strongside linebacker
- Manny Abreu from strongside linebacker to defensive end
- Ka'lial Glaud from weakside linebacker to middle linebacker
- Marcus Thompson from linebacker to fullback
- Mason Robinson from receiver to cornerback
- Jawaun Wynn from receiver to safety
The moves make sense because of the style of play Schiano wants to get back to.
Offensively, coordinator Frank Cignetti was brought in to run a power, two-back physical style the Scarlet Knights used during the Brian Leonard-Ray Rice years, and the moves are geared toward that.
Deering is a big running back who proved he can find gaps and use his legs to continue moving forward, and brings the versatility and size (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) to create mismatches by leaving the backfield and lining up in the slot or at wide receiver.
With five-star running back Savon Huggins signing with Rutgers and expected to be the primary running back in the fall, moving Martinek to fullback gives the Scarlet Knights a versatile player at a position that was phased out the last two seasons.
Martinek will be a tough lead blocker, and also be able to catch the ball out of the backfield and be a real threat carrying the ball. He can also be a short-yardage running back.
Thompson was an accomplished running back at Boyd Anderson High (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.), and flipped between linebacker and defensive end last season. He has the size (6-2, 240) to be a powerful fullback, if he can learn the position.
Size and speed is also the reason for Wynn's move to safety. He is 6-3, and should be up to 200 pounds by training camp, and he ran a 4.48 at Rutgers' camp before his senior year at Piscataway High.
Defensively, the moves are all geared toward making the defense faster.
Thomas was the Scarlet Knights' leading rusher (417 yards) in 2010, but his best projected position when he was recruited was as a defensive back. He is 6-1, 185 pounds, and was one of the top sprinters in New York as a senior, which translate to cover speed.
Moving Greene from safety to weakside linebacker gives the Scarlet Knights more speed on the edge, and he brings recklessness in hitting and tackling to the unit.
Glaud spent plenty of time backing up at middle linebacker, and he gives the Scarlet Knights a physical, smart player in the middle of the defense. He also has the speed to play sideline-to-sideline.
Abreu nearly moved to defensive end prior to his junior season, but stayed at linebacker. He was physical at the line of scrimmage, but struggled in coverage and also pursuit. Allowing him to play defensive end will allow Abreu to use his power and quick first step to get up the field.
Overall, the moves are geared toward being more physical on offense, and getting back to having a speedy, aggressive defense.
As a freshman, Beauharnais made his mark as a blitzing linebacker while also proving he could cover a tight end down the field, but his athleticism and speed was mitigated when he moved to middle linebacker last season.