Camp Primer: True Freshmen

The countdown to training camp continues with players set to report Aug. 1. Eleven days from the start of training camp, ScarletReport.com looks at the top true freshmen in position for playing time.

5.) DB Delon Stephenson -- Anthony Cioffi or Nadir Barnwell could fit here as well, but Stephenson has the experience advantage after a full spring with Rutgers and a semester in prep school. Changes in the defensive secondary and limited cornerback experience have all of the young defensive backs in the program in position to make an early impact.

Stephenson prefers safety but came on strong at cornerback by the end of spring. He could start training camp on the two-deep and also should get a look on special teams alongside Janarion Grant.

4.) RB Dontea Ayres -- Rutgers needs running back depth. Ayres did not explode onto the scene in spring. He has health concerns and has not played a full football season in two years, but he has program experience over Justin Goodwin or Devan Carter.

Rutgers has few options at tailback and Ayres should get a solid look behind Savon Huggins if he comes to camp healthy.

3.) DT Sebastian Joseph -- Joseph comes with college-ready physical attributes and can fill in at 3-tech, where there is no established depth behind sophomore starter Darius Hamilton. For a defense that likes to rotate seven to nine guys in the trenches, Joseph is the most college-ready lineman.

For Joseph to find the field, he has to catch up in the summer conditioning program after time away from the gym because of shoulder surgery. Joseph came in at his target weight but has to make major improvements to his upper body strength workouts. He could not lift most of his senior year after his season ended in December.

2.) TE Taylor Marini -- Early in recruiting, the biggest knock on Marini was his size. Since committing and signing with Rutgers, the Lake Mary (Fla.) product grew to 6-foot-4, 255 pounds and has the size to step in and immediately help the offense.

Rutgers graduated D.C. Jefferson and did not bring any new tight ends into the program in the 2012 class. With Paul Carrezola in his final year, Rutgers needs new faces at the position and Marini is the most complete option at this time.

1.) LB Lester Liston -- Liston came to Rutgers as a grown man. Working his tail off to get eligible in prep school, Liston enrolled in January and instantly found himself as a two-deep contributor. Liston has plenty of room to grow, but is already trimmed down and in improved shape. Steve Longa established himself as a legitimate starter during spring, but there are plenty of reps behind him at middle linebacker.

Liston led the program in tackles at this year's spring game. Rutgers needs versatility in its second-time linebackers. Liston has enough athleticism and knowledge of the position to fill multiple roles.


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