Moving Forward: Offseason Storyline Central

Without a game until Sept. 5, Rutgers has a late start to training camp. As we count down the days until the Scarlet Knights report for year four under coach Kyle Flood, we take a look at the biggest storylines from the end of spring camp and beyond.

5. Class of 2014 Changes -- Rutgers saw two changes between spring and summer with the announced transfer of defensive end Donald Bedell and a position change for Logan Lister.

Bedell was not a heavy contributor during spring camp, and moves on to a new program after one year at Rutgers. Lister, who battled lower body injuries during his first 18 months on campus, will be back at his high-school position of tackle after a year as a tight end. Lister was a three-star tackle in Scout’s 2014 rankings.

4. The Ties that Bind -- Rutgers promotes the idea of family, but twice made it literal during June. Freshman enrollment includes two younger brothers within the Scarlet Knights locker room in cornerback Ronnie James and receiver Joseph Gause.

James signed his NLI in February out of Glassboro (N.J.) and Gause – linebacker Quentin Gause’s younger brother, committed as a preferred walk-on after a prep semester at New Berlin (N.Y.) Milford Academy.

3. Are More Facility Upgrades on the way? – Rutgers cosmetically improved its Hale Center in the offseason, and the recently-approved physical master plan for the university includes plenty of changes for the football program. Whether the upgrades ever happen remains in question, but coach Kyle Flood is in full support of the plans.

“"It's exciting to have the president of the university come out and talk about the importance of upgrading our facilities," Flood said. "Like anything else, if the person who is ultimately in charge of making the decisions at the university says that this is a priority, you have to feel great that things are going to happen and they're going to happen in a timely fashion.”

The plans include a football-only Hale Center with other sports moved to the south end zone, and plenty of improvements to the weight and locker rooms.

2. Back and Better than Ever? - ACL surgeries are not nearly as devastating as they were 15 years ago, and fifth-year senior Paul James could be the latest success surgery. The 2014 Navy game was not James’ first serious knee injury, but Flood expects one of the faces of his program back at “100 percent” for the start of August’s training camp.

“P.J. looks great,” Flood said last week. "We feel like he'll be 100 percent when we start training camp."

Young guns Josh Hicks and Robert Martin picked up the slack late in 2014, but the senior leader is expected back and eager to add on to 1,493 career yards and 16 touchdowns.

1. The Cornerback Conundrum -- Defensive coordinator Joe Rossi came out of spring with an impressive young group of athletes. That was before a busy May and June of changes.

Flood dismissed Darian Dailey – a projected starter – following felony armed robbery charges during break in Florida. Junior Nadir Barnwell, another projected starter, faces academic ineligibility this season but Flood said he will not deliver final word until after summer classes.

Ruhann Peele moves from receiver to cornerback for depth purposes, and Rutgers adds Jarius Adams and James to the position in what will be one of the most interesting storylines of training camp.


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