Moving Forward: Red-Shirt Opportunities

When Rutgers takes the field Sept. 5 against Norfolk State, it is the first on-field opportunity for many. Rutgers red-shirted all but four scholarship freshmen in 2014, which gives Kyle Flood plenty of hungry bodies for playing time. Scout looks at the top five in line for playing time.

5. DE Jimmy Hogan -- The kid from Ramapo, N.J., worked his way up to a starting spot by the end of training camp (only when entrenched starter Djwany Mera missed time). At a rotation-heavy line that last three key offseason players, Hogan is in line for playing time at the “E.” Hogan, a consistent option, likely locked down a spot on the two-deep after a solid spring campaign.

4. OL Tariq Cole -- Barring injury, Cole becomes a role player that can compete for a starting job after his year-one body transformation. Cole moves well with quick feet for a player of his size. He is also strong, and versatile. A multi-year starter candidate, that could begin at right guard in 2015 depending on where faces like Chris Muller and Marcus Applefield wind up in the rotation ahead of him.

3. CB Isaiah Wharton -- Whaton’s star rose in spring after he avoided a move to safety. The cornerback lines no longer include Kam Lott (transfer), Darian Dailey (dismissal), Gareef Glashen (graduation) and Anthony Cioffi (position change). That gives Wharton one of the first cracks at the two deep. Wharton must earn a role with a solid training camp, but he could begin as high as second on the depth carter to start after his impressive offseason output.

2. S Kiy Hester -- The strong safety battle wages on, and even if the Miami transfer loses out to high-school teammate Davon Jacobs, there is plenty of playing time available. Hester continues his adjustment to the Rutgers scheme, and can be a special teams weapon in addition to his role in sub-packages. Hester can move up in the box against the run, and he hits hard. Rutgers defensive coordinator Joe Rossi will find the best place for him.

1. DT Kevin Wilkins -- Pending Sebastian Joseph’s health, Wilkins starts at nose tackle from the first snap. Despite a late 2014 arrival, Wilkins pushed for immediate playing time last training camp. With a red-shirt season, the former Don Bosco and St. Joseph star lineman is bigger, stronger and faster. Quanzell Lambert filled in as an emergency nose tackle in spring, but Joseph and Wilkins stand as the best options for training camp.

Honorable Mentions -- S Saquan Hampton, DT Eric Wiafe


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