Football Notebook: Spring Forward

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Rutgers coach Kyle Flood took the podium at the Hale Center for the third time since getting the job in the offseason. With spring practice kicking off next week, Flood spoke with the media about the latest position changes, injury updates and thoughts on his first spring as head coach.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The biggest news today out of head coach Kyle Flood's pre-spring press conference was the official announcement of Jeremy Deering moving back to wide receiver.

Deering began his career as a wideout with great success as a true freshman, but moved to running back when Frank Cignetti took over as offensive coordinator.

Now a junior, the talented Tampa, Fla., athlete is back at receiver with Flood and offensive coordinator Dave Brock now in charge.

"I don't know if it's a big switch for Jeremy, but by putting him there, we give him an opportunity to impact the game more and hopefully get him more touches," Flood said.

Other position changes included Quentin Gause heading back to linebacker, Sam Bergen moving to fullback, J.T. Tartacoff moving to safety and Jawaun Wynn headed to the "R" defensive end position as a pass rush specialist.

"Jawaun Wynn is extremely physically talented young man," Flood said. "I think that is a position, as he grows comfortable with it, he'll be able to impact the games on a high level. I'm really excited about that. I know Jawaun is excited about that. I know Coach (Jim) Panagos and Coach (Robb) Smith are excited about that. We're in the process of making that transition and obviously that'll take some time because of the switch from being a receiver to now at times having your hand on the ground and at times being in a two-point stance but taking on blockers in the first level."

Spring Injuries

Rutgers will be without a small group of its top players for the spring because of some offseason surgeries.

Top defenders Khaseem Greene (leg) and Scott Vallone (shoulder) are out for the spring. Sophomore tackle Kaleb Johnson, who moved from left to right, will not participate in 11-on-11 drills with a shoulder injury and neither will tight end D.C. Jefferson (ankle).

"Kaleb Johnson, I see as a very talented, physically strong offensive lineman," Flood said on the move to left tackle. "With our depth and our personnel, he's the guy best suited to be our left tackle going forward and hopefully for the next three years."

The key absences allow for younger players like Kevin Snyder, Kenneth Kirksey and Isaac Holmes to get even more experience in the 15 upcoming practices.

"Kevin Snyder is a guy that I think can play at a lot of places for us," Flood said. "We thought the best way to give him a lot of experience this spring was to move him into the position that Khaseem (Greene) has played for us. Will that be where he plays going forward? It could be, but I don't think that he needs to be boxed into that one spot. I think he's a linebacker that gives us a lot of versatility."

Sophomore running back Savon Huggins is healthy and will be 100 percent for the spring, Flood said.

Great Expectations

West Virginia is out of the Big East and Rutgers has the top returning defense in the conference. In just his first year on the job, Flood as high expectations for success.

With championships in his vision, Flood embraces the pressure, he said.

"I think it goes back to what I said in my first press conference," Flood said. "I feel that the time is right for Rutgers to win championships. My saying that doesn't make it happen, but those are the expectations of our program. We expect to build young men into grown men. We expect them to do it while getting their degrees.

"We expect to win championships. Where we are at right now in our program, we need to prove that we can do that. I think our players understand that. We embrace the expectations. I think if you ask any college football player in the country if they want to win a championship next year, I think they'd all tell you yes. And I think our players are no different. They'd tell you the same thing."

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