The challenge this spring will be transitioning from a Greg Schiano defense to a Robb Smith one and learning the position under new coach Dave Cohen.
Greene, recovering from a leg injury in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, chose to return for his senior season after projecting as an NFL Draft pick. The co-Big East Defensive Player of the Year logged 141 tackles last season. During the coaching change, Greene emerged as a leader behind the scenes.
Beauharnais enters the spring healthy, but after two strong years at middle linebacker, spring is more about learning from the new coaching staff than piling up repetitions in practice. Beauharnais finished second on the team in tackles with 77.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of 2011, converted wide receiver Jamal Merrell emerged as an impact outside linebacker. Merrell made game-winning type plays like his forced fumble against Syracuse and can become even more of a threat with a full set of spring practices.
The same goes for sophomore Kevin Snyder, who split time with Merrell as a true freshman and will continue to do so this spring. Snyder brings athleticism to the position and could also become a threat as a pass rusher off the edge.
Keep an Eye on
David Milewski yet again enters spring following a season-ending knee injury. Before Quanzell Lambert arrives, Rutgers needs to find other viable options at middle linebacker. Milewski showed spurts of solid play in both his freshman and sophomore seasons before the injury bug bit. Beauharnais will not be in on every play and Rutgers needs some depth behind him, whether it comes from Milewski or a position change.
Ka'Lial Glaud has middle linebacker experience, but moved to defensive end during camp last season. Glaud spent some time back at linebacker after Milewski's injury last year and could do so again this spring.