There are few lists with more college prestige than the All-Big Ten list announced at the end of each season. Rutgers faces stronger individual competition in putting players on first- or second-team all-conference in 2014.
But Rutgers also has the personnel at multiple positions to stand out instantly in the Big Ten. Counting down the days until a new conference, ScarletReport.com looks at five Scarlet Knights that could crack the top of the list.
5. Junior receiver Leonte Carroo -- Carroo has 1,000-yard potential if he stays healthy, but it will take a lot more than that to emerge as one of the best in the conference. The Big Ten is stacked with quarterback and receiver talent with more teams examining the spread offense each season. To be the best, Carroo will have to beat the best. If his fourth-quarter play against teams like Fresno State and Arkansas becomes the consistent output, watch out. Running back Paul James is in a similar situation, where staying healthy and breaking 1,000 yards on the ground may not be enough.
4. Senior center Betim Bujari -- Offensive linemen are often honored in the postseason based on reputation, and that puts Rutgers at a disadvantage as a newcomer to the conference. Bujari has the best chance to emerge because he is a senior with starting experience in four separate seasons. Bujari needs to stay healthy, and Rutgers needs to put up big rushing numbers for him to emerge as a candidate.
3.Junior defensive tackle Darius Hamilton -- Does size matter in the trenches? This is Hamilton's best opportunity to make a statement that technique reigns supreme. Hamilton will see the best of the best on a weekly basis, and the former five-star prospect is sick of being asked about how much he weighs and if he can get bigger. Hamilton will anchor the Rutgers defensive line in 2014. If the Rutgers defense is as successful against the run as it is historically, then Hamilton can expect serious accolades.
2. Sophomore linebacker Steve Longa -- It requires 131 tackles to crack the top 10 for a season in Rutgers history, and Longa has a legitimate chance to do so at his new position. Longa was the first middle linebacker since Gary Brackett to crack 100 tackles in a season, and he now moves to a position designed for making plays. Chicago Bear Khaseem Greene registered 141 tackles in the same scheme in 2011. Longa would love to give that number a run for its money.
1. Junior tight end Tyler Kroft -- Kroft's biggest competition is Michigan's Devin Funchess, who has legitimate All-American and NFL potential after a stellar sophomore season. A lot of Kroft's success depends on how offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen uses him, and the consistency of quarterback play. Kroft was the best in the AAC as a sophomore, and should be able to build on his 573 yards and four touchdowns.