Ramel Meekins knew how to be an impact defender at nose tackle in the Rutgers scheme. And nearly a decade later, his name and his film still hold value within the Scarlet Knights meeting rooms.
Meekins now works for Rutgers as an academic adviser but his educational value to the program spans beyond the classroom.
“I’ve learned a lot from Ramel Meekins,” said sophomore nose tackle Sebastian Joseph . “I ask him a lot of questions. … He’s one of the best nose guards to ever come through here so I always ask him questions and stuff like that.”
Joseph transitioned to nose guard in the offseason, where he projects to start the opener against Norfolk State. Meekins made a name for himself during the rise of the Rutgers program as a violent nose guard, and his presence on campus remains a help to the active roster. “Ramel is the man,” Joseph said. “I love Ramel. I look to him like an older brother. I ask him and he gives me advice. [Graduate assistant Scott] Vallone, I always go to coach Vallone as well. I always ask coach Vallone since I haven’t been able to see Ramel as much since the spring.”
Vallone replaced Charlie Noonan as a defensive line assistant in the offseason after an equally impressive Rutgers career in the trenches.
“It’s funny, he gets mad at me because he thinks I talk him up,” Joseph said. “Coach Vallone thinks I talk him up. He was disgusting. I always tell him this story. I remember as a recruit the first time I walked in, I saw him all swole and I was like, ‘who’s that?’ … This guy is good.”
Joseph debuted briefly as a true freshman before an injury shut him down. He then logged 13 games at the 3-technique as Darius Hamilton’s primary backup.
Nose tackle was not an easy adjustment for Joseph, who welcomes the help from teachers like Meekins, Vallone and defensive line coach Jim Panagos.
“I’m feeling good about it but there’s still a lot I have to improve on,” Joseph said. “I wasn’t comfortable at first, but I am now that I’m getting back into the swing of things since the injury. I’m finding that place.”
Joseph made four tackles in his first two years on the field, but statistics, he said, are of no concern at a position like nose tackle.
“I don’t care, I just want to win,” he said. “[I do] whatever it takes to win, that’s what I’m about.”