Moving Forward: Strong Safety Breakdown

The battle between Davon Jacobs and Kiy Hester continues after both made their case in spring practice. Scout looks deeper at the strong safety position, which adds a new starter in 2015 after the graduation of captain Lorenzo Waters.

The Competition -- Both former superstars and state champions at Wayne (N.J.) DePaul, sophomore Davon Jacobs and red-shirt freshman Kiy Hester continue their position battle for Lorenzo Waters’ vacated position.

Jacobs remained in front after spring practice, but both can have roles in the defense with plenty of preseason football left to go. Jacobs is a workout warrior in the offseason, but needs to put it all together. Hester is fully assimilated in the Rutgers program after his transfer last summer out of Miami. Neither emerged as a clear-cut starter in a position battle that could last through the entire season.

Storyline Central -- Rutgers needs better execution out of its strong safeties this season. Between missed tackles and bad angles, Rutgers struggled against the ground game when running backs reached the second and third level. If the Scarlet Knights want to hold guys like Ezekiel Elliott and Corey Clement in check, strong safety must step it up.

Prospect Development -- Red-shirt freshman Saquan Hampton was one of the standouts of spring camp, and head coach Kyle Flood rewarded him for it. Hampton needs quicker feet and more experience at safety before he sees the field, but his improvements were a bright spot in both bowl practices and spring camp. Hampton can work at either safety spot as needed, and likely debuts on the field as a special teams guy against Norfolk State.

Rising walk-on star Andre Hunt worked for the first time at strong safety this year, and could see more reps in training camp.

Preseason Grade -- B- -- Jacobs and Hester are both elite athletes, but one hasn’t seen the field since high school and the other did not exactly shine when given opportunities last season for Rutgers. Jacobs and Hester both bring upside and represent viable options for Joe Rossi’s 2015 defense.


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