Moving Forward: Nose Tackle Breakdown

With both Kenneth Kirksey and Daryl Stephenson forgoing final years of eligibility, nose tackle becomes an unknown for Rutgers in 2015. The two top competitors, Sebastian Joseph and Kevin Wilkins, square off for the starting job in one of the most important roles on the Rutgers defense.

The Competition -- Although junior Quanzell Lambert wrapped up spring with a start at the nose tackle position, the 250-pounder is unlikely to remain there with the need for bulkier bodies in Big Ten action.

The primary competitors are sophomore Sebastian Joseph and red-shirt freshman Kevin Wilkins. Joseph spent most of spring on the injury report, however, and his return for training camp is uncertain. Head coach Kyle Flood did not have an update at Big Ten Media Day. Wilkins put together a solid spring, but the former Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph Regional and Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep standout remains green. Wilkins likely reports at 300 pounds next week, and the pressure is on with limited options at nose guard.

Storyline Central -- Is bigger better? For Rutgers, it has to be. Flood recruited more size on his defensive line in the last two classes, and continues the move away from smaller interior linemen.

Not only does Rutgers have two options around the 300-pound mark in Joseph and Wilkins, but Flood recruited 340-pound Kenneth Roman as a preferred walk-on and 300-pound Kamaal Seymour on top of it.

Prospect Development -- Seymour begins his Rutgers career as a defensive lineman, and Rutgers needs some big bodies on its scout team. Don’t forget that Seymour stuck with Rutgers after hard pushes late from both Penn State and UCF. Now enrolled, the former Brooklyn (N.Y.) Grand Street Campus star has to improve his hands, get stronger and build himself into a space eater under the guise of position coach Jim Panagos.

Preseason Grade -- C – Early departures by Kenneth Kirksey and Daryl Stephenson crated a void at nose tackle. Rutgers needs an improvement at nose tackle after so many struggles against the run in Big Ten play. Neither Joseph nor Wilkins proved himself yet and other defensive line positions have to step up early. Rutgers has better size at nose tackle, but needs some in-game experience.

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