Burning Questions Revisited: Defense

The Rutgers defense had many questions going into spring with a new coordinator and replacing many key components. Following the conclusion of spring camp, ScarletReport.com revisits the top five burning questions surrounding the Rutgers defense.

ScarletReport.com raised questions regarding the Rutgers defense before spring camp started and now looks back following the conclusion of camp at the answers that came and what remains unresolved.

5.) What Happens with Darius Hamilton? -- He takes a step forward. Hamilton added 10 points of good weight and locked up a starting role at the 3-tech position. Hamilton came into the spring as the only realistic option and left looking prepared to take on a starter's role.

Hamilton remains undersized at his position but did not have the speed to succeed at defensive end. Playing inside with Isaac Holmes, Hamilton's superior technique made him the victor of many offensive line battles this spring.

4.) What Happens at Nose Tackle? -- Kenneth Kirksey emerges. Yes, Holmes will be the starter and he put in a strong camp before resting his surgically-repaired arm. But Kirksey stepped up as the second-team nose and is expected to have a legitimate stop on the two-deep. Staying healthy has been a concern in the past and remains so going into camp.

Behind Holmes and Kirksey, it comes down to Al Page's ability to get healthy and how quickly Jamil Pollard adjusts to the college game.

3.) Are Tejay Johnson and Gareef Glashen Ready for the Spotlight? Unanswered. Both exceeded expectations in camp but neither was lights-out. Johnson was solid in coverage but shut it down the last week because of health concerns. While Johnson played, the Rutgers secondary was significantly more successful against Gary Nova in scrimmage situations. Once Johnson sat down, Nova turned it up.

With Glashen, he played well enough to remain in consideration for a starting job.

2.) How will Ian Thomas and Jeremy Deering do in the secondary? Very well. Thomas and Deering both finished spring looking like veteran defensive back. Coach Kyle Flood converted both wide receivers to defense this year and could end up both starting against Fresno State.

Deering excelled at safety with Davon Jacobs and Lorenzo Waters battling injuries and showed that getting physical would not be an issue. Thomas was the defensive star of spring at cornerback. Recommended by Logan Ryan for a position change, Thomas embraced his chance to see the field and surprised everyone with his quick growth.

1.) Are Khaseem Greene and Steve Beauharnais Replicable? Yes. In college football, teams don't rebuilt. They reload. The leadership presences of NFL draft picks Greene and Beauharnais will be sorely missed but the linebackers will not take a dramatic step back.

Jamal Merrell continues to step into his role as an impact outside linebacker and Kevin Snyder is hard at work in his development to replace Greene. Inside, Steve Longa is the leader to replace Beauharnais and he brings more speed and athleticism to the position. Freshmen Lester Liston and Quanzell Lambert will continue to push for time and look for the 2013 new-look linebackers to be a strength of the defense.


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