For the purpose of pre-spring conversation, lock junior Delon Stephenson in as the starting free safety. Stephenson still needs to win the job, but has a major edge after co-starting alongside the departing Johnathan Aiken. Lorenzo Waters’ strong safety spot and the third sub-package slot, however, are up for grabs.
Davon Jacobs -- From safety to linebacker and back to safety, Jacobs remains in search of his best position as a junior. Jacobs played ahead of Waters at times during the 2013 season but similarly struggled with his tackling angles and closing speed. Jacobs could be one of the best workout warriors Rutgers has. He has the edge based on experience going into spring with 40 career games and 64 tackles.
Kiy Hester -- Hester brought the “it factor” out of high school, and coach Kyle Flood welcomed him home from Miami after a messy recruitment and the need to be closer to family. Hester sat out the requisite transfer season – also his red-shirt year – and now is the next step for the former Scout four-star recruit. Hester hits like a truck with more ideal closing speed as a strong safety in the Rutgers system. He is athletic enough to work at nickel in Rutgers sub-packages should coordinator Joe Rossi stick with the three-safety look.
Andre Hunt -- This is another great walk-on tale where a high school running back battled injuries before he found Rutgers out of Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy. Hunt started work at strong safety during the season. He started against Michigan following a Stephenson injury and Aiken suspension. Hunt showed a nose for the football in limited playing time, including a decisive sack against Navy.
Other Options -- The above likely round out the two-deep, but do not rule out other red-shirt freshmen when it comes to spring camp. Saquan Hampton looked strong on the scout team in his first season. The same goes for Isaiah Wharton, who could be a cornerback or safety based on need this season. Both represent ideal special teams contributors, but deserve a chance at safety as much as Hester, a fellow red-shirt freshman.