For players, it's time to wear in new cleats and put all of those playbook study sessions to work. For Kyle Flood and his staff, the true talent evaluation for the 2013 season begins tomorrow morning on the practice field. And for fans, it means a much needed transition into the next year of Rutgers football — and 33 days until the spring game.
To get ready for tomorrow, ScarletReport.com looks at five under-the-radar players with a chance to take the next step this spring.
Sophomore safety Rashad Knight — Injuries and a late arrival to training camp his freshman year slowed the development of Knight and dropped him from young gun to under-the-radar. Knight excelled early last season before a foot injury knocked him out for three months. Look for a healthy Knight to make noise this spring at a position with relatively little depth behind All-Big East stud Duron Harmon.
Redshirt freshman Tyler Kroft — Someone has to get reps behind Paul Carrezola with D.C. Jefferson out. Kroft may not yet be finished in the weight room, but he has the size and athleticism to get open and make plays. Kroft displayed soft hands in training camp last year and may end up getting some key reps this season.
Sophomore linebacker Kevin Snyder — Snyder may not be under-the-radar anymore, but he will get a boatload of work at a new position with Khaseem Greene injured at weakside linebacker. Snyder made some key plays last season, but his first spring camp can only make him better. A chance to work hands on with linebackers coach Dave Cohen is critical for Snyder and the rest of the young linebackers looking to make the two-deep.
Sophomore tackle Taj Alexander — The converted defensive lineman is on the two-deep with less than a year's experience at the position. Though he will be in heavy competition with transfer R.J. Dill at right tackle, look for Alexander to see plenty of time on the line with Kaleb Johnson injured.
Redshirt freshman running back Paul James — Whether it is Tyrone Putman or Travis Patterson, a walk-on running back always finds a chance to make noise in spring camp. In terms of potential, James is ahead of both of them. Size, speed and vision, James would have been a totally different recruit if not for injuries late in his high-school career. With Jeremy Deering leaving the position, look for James to see plenty of time behind co-starters Jawan Jamison and Savon Huggins.