Two-Deep Breakdown: OLB Robert Joseph

Spring camp is over and the Rutgers football team has three weeks off before regrouping for summer classes. Coming out of the spring, is here to individually break down every expected member of the summer two-deep. Today, we take a look at newly made outside linebacker Robert Joseph.

Taking an in-depth, individual look at the key members of the roster, today looks at junior Robert Joseph, is listed as the backup weakside linebacker.

Past Experience — Joseph has no experience as a linebacker and injuries kept him from ever having a role while at fullback. It took Joseph nearly two seasons to actually be an every-day practice player with injuries holding him back.

Healthy after the leg injury left him on the sidelines for all of 2009 and 2010, Joseph made progress on the practice squad in 2011 and received some real work at his position during bowl practices. But with Michael Burton emerging as a reliable fullback and the depth provided by Paul Canevari and Sam Bergen, the coaching staff moved Joseph to linebacker midway through the spring.

As a Recruit — Joseph came to Rutgers as a two-star fullback recruit out of Poly Prep CDS (Brooklyn, N.Y.). He was the 19th rated fullback in 2009 with Rutgers being his only major suitor.

Spring Performance — Joesph started his work as a middle linebacker after the second scrimmage of the spring. In a very limited role behind starter Steve Beauharnais and backup Kevin Snyder, Joseph slowly began learning the position. After the spring, however, coach Kyle Flood listed him as the backup weakside linebacker where he can learn behind Khaseem Greene during training camp.

Does Well — Joseph showed from his first day at linebacker that hitting will not be a problem. He looked like a natural tackler from his first practice at linebacker and forced more than one fumble in hits on 11-on-11 drills.

Needs to Improve — Joseph needs to learn to be a linebacker. He has the physical tools to contribute something to the position, especially with the lack of depth behind the starters, but is less than a month into his new position.

For Joseph to last on the two-deep once freshmen arrive, he needs to quickly become a master of the playbook and learn as much as he can from Greene and Beauharnais. Priority No. 1, however, is to stay healthy. Joseph has already missed two seasons with injuries.

Long-Term Outlook — It is tough to project any sort of long-term outlook for Joseph because of his struggles to stay healthy through his first three years in the program. Joseph has never shown more than sparks as a play-maker, but a full healthy year in 2011 is the best possible sign going into training camp.

Joseph has two more years of eligibility and could be a candidate for a sixth year because of his leg injuries. The longer he stays healthy, the greater chances Joseph has of seeing the field.

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