Spring Stock Report: Defense

Five Rutgers football players improved their stock significantly following the spring semester's practices. As the players finish exams and head toward a well-earned, albeit short, break, Scarlet Report looks at five defensive players with stock on the rise heading into training camp.

The spring semester approaches its conclusion for Rutgers in the classroom, and is already over on the field.

Before the players enjoy a short break before summer workouts, Scarlet Report examines five defensive players who rose their stock value during spring camp.

5. Cornerback Blessuan Austin -- This kid did not look like a true freshman, and it is clear that Rutgers scouted an impressive athlete out of New Berlin (N.Y.) Milford Academy. Austin has the strength and frame to be an elite cornerback, and is not afraid of the physical Rutgers style.

Austin has room to grow as a converted high school quarterback, but he showed enough in spring that a red-shirt appears unlikely.

4. Safety Anthony Cioffi -- Rutgers coach Kyle Flood rewards big plays. Cioffi gave him exactly that with an impressive interception and touchdown in the Rutgers spring game. A mid-camp move from corner to safety, Cioffi made the most of his new role. Look for the junior to push Delon Stephenson and others for real playing time at free safety in training camp.

3. Nose tackle Kevin Wilkins -- The red-shirt freshman big man got a tremendous opportunity after Sebastian Joseph’s injury. Wilkins was the lone Big Ten body at nose tackle as Rutgers seeks for Kenneth Kirksey and Daryl Stephenson replacements.

Wilkins has violent hands, good strength and a competitive edge. He earned a spot on the defensive line rotation and could be a starter based on Joseph’s recovery.

2. Linebacker Isaiah Johnson -- Middle linebacker was arguably the biggest void for Rutgers after L.J. Liston’s transfer and Kevin Snyder’s road to the Detroit Lions. Yes, Kaiwan Lewis is an interesting addition from South Carolina, but Rutgers needs more than one option.

Johnson made his case strongly during spring practice. The JUCO linebacker stepped immediately into a starter role, and never looked back. He picked off a pass in his first time on the High Point Solutions Stadium turf, and likely begins training camp as the starter. Johnson moves well side to side, communicates well and is strong against the run.

1. Cornerback Darian Dailey -- Nobody took advantage of injuries better than Dailey. The red-shirt freshman was a late addition to Flood’s 2014 recruiting class at cornerback, and is now in the starting conversation at his position.

Dailey started the majority of spring with Nadir Barnwell out and Cioffi limited early in camp. Dailey and sophomore Dre Boggs gave the quarterbacks a tough look. Both played the physical Rutgers style, and both held the Rutgers receivers at bay for the majority of spring scrimmages.

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