Transition to Training Camp: Defensive Line

ScarletReport.com continues its position-analysis series. Check back every day for an in-depth look at each position and where everyone stands coming out of spring and preparing for training camp. Today, we switch to the defensive side of the ball ...

Spring Lesson: Losing Charlie Noonan, Alex Silvestro and Jonathan Freeny really hurts. There is almost no established depth on the defensive line, which only returns one starter.

The advantage for Rutgers is the addition of seven scholarship linemen to the roster this season, including two that enrolled early.

With inexperience abound, whichever true freshmen linemen show up in the best shape for training camp have a great chance of finding playing time.

Starters out of Spring: Scott Vallone is clearly the anchor of the line, if not the entire team, but the coaching staff held him out of the spring game after a few dings through training camp.

Isaac Holmes stepped into Vallone's place in the spring game and started alongside fifth-year seniors Manny Abreu and Justin Francis and red-shirt sophomore Michael Larrow.

All five, the most experienced members of the defensive line, figure into the rotation that traditionally runs seven or eight deep. Other than Vallone, however, there is almost no starting experience on the defensive line.

Abreu has double-digit starts as a linebacker, but is still green at defensive end. Francis had a big role last season, but played behind the experienced Silvestro and Freeny. Larrow found some playing time as a backup late in last season.

Got a Chance: This is where it gets interesting. Which newcomers will play right away?

It's tough to say before training camp even starts, but prep school transfers Kenneth Kirksey and Djwany Mera have to have the best shot because they were enrolled for spring practice. Kirksey and Mera both started at second-team defensive tackle on the spring game and have a year of prep school under their belt.

Behind Kirksey and Mera, Marquise Wright and Max Issaka have the highest immediate expectations as recruits, but it all comes down to who is in shape and who is ready to play.

The other youngster to watch will be Jamil Merrell, now in his third year. With the lack of depth at end, Merrel definitely has a chance.

Needs More Time With the lack of depth and experience on the line, "needs more time" does not mean someone will not see the field this year.

Shane Meisner improved this spring. Meisner received a lot of praise from Greg Schiano as a walk-on and could find the field with a good camp.

Youngsters Anthony La Lota and Taj Alexander worked a little on the offensive side of the ball and neither cracked the second team as starters in the spring game. They both have their work cut out for them.

Then there's the rest of the true freshmen. Myles Jackson is still relatively new to playing with his hands down. His senior year of high school was his first as a lineman, but his tape was impressive enough to get the offer from Rutgers.

Kyle George and Daryl Stephenson round out the freshmen. Both bring good size and strength to the line but could benefit from a red-shirt (unless RU wants to use Stephenson as a kicker of course).

Schiano's Take:"I was impressed that [Scott Vallone] pushed through. I know it hurts a lot but he wanted to be out there. It was a little worrisome; I was afraid he could get hurt worse. It's great to see him out there, especially because when I was standing over him out on the field I was worried it could be a lot worse."

Transition to Training Camp:

Quarterbacks

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Fullbacks

Tight Ends

Offensive Line

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