Moving Forward: Guard Breakdown

Junior Chris Muller leads the Rutgers guards into Big Ten season No. 2. After Kaleb Johnson's NFL departure, the Scarlet Knights seek both depth and experience in training camp with at least one new starter to emerge.

The Competition -- The competition at offensive guard depends heavily on what coach Kyle Flood wants at the center position. Sophomore Dorian Miller and junior Chris Muller are significant favorites at left and right guard respectively, but both worked at center during the spring as well. In what may become an effort to get the best five on the gridiron regardless of position, Miller and Muller fit that formula. If either guard moves to center more permanently, red-shirt freshman Tariq Cole is close to ready for his shot and junior Ryan Brodie saw action in spring camp.

Storyline Central -- Coaches love when a plan comes together, and Flood has that perfectly in two of his prized offensive line recruits. Miller, a four-star prospect, and Cole, New York’s top guard in 2014, are right on track. Miller took his red-shirt year, and Rutgers slowly assimilated him in year two. Now, Flood has a talented interior linemen ready for three years as a starter. Cole is on the same track. The big man reshaped his body and, unless injury forces him into action too early, gets a similar role in 2015 that Miller enjoyed last season.

Prospect Development -- Cole has an all-conference type body, but he needs a lot more work with Mitch Browning before he comes into his own. Rutgers could have one or two interesting preferred walk-ons at guard, but scholarship freshman Jonah Jackson is the most intriguing newcomer to the position. Jackson will be an important scout team player for Rutgers as a true freshman and, in an ideal world, develops for two or three years before he steps into a starting role.

Preseason Grade -- B -- There is plenty of talent, but playing experience is not yet where it needs to be. Muller is the elder statesman but he played inconsistently as a sophomore and battled offseason injuries. Rutgers is not as bulky as other Big Ten interior lines, but Cole changes that when he is ready for action. The best part of the outlook at guard is that there are no seniors. They’ll all be back for 2016.

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