Tuesday Rutgers Practice Report: Eye on Linebacker

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers put on shoulder pads for Tuesday’s practice, and defensive coordinator Jay Niemann spoke at its conclusion about play-calling, personnel and more.

The Headline – Rutgers defensive coordinator Jay Niemann expects to be the play caller for the Scarlet Knights based on his most recent conversations with coach Chris Ash.

Niemann and the defense are still in the infancy of an install and procedural duties.

“What he’s told me most recently is that I’m going to be calling the game, and I think that’s the way it will work out,” Niemann said. “I’m sure he’s going to have an input like any head coach would want but that’s our plan right now.”

There are no set starters at linebacker but Deonte Roberts, Najee Clayton and Brandon Russell remain active with the ones.

“They’re all trying to learn a new defense,” Niemann said. “Right now we’re just rotating guys through, trying to give them equal reps until we can figure out if there’s a little bit of separation between guys. Right now it’s kind of even for everybody.”

Worth Noting – With plenty of spread teams in the Big Ten, Rutgers will have hybrid attackers at linebacker. That fueled position changes for Clayton and Greg Jones.

“The way we’re using our SAMs with all of the spread offenses that are out there right now, that guy is kind of a hybrid between a linebacker and a safety,” Niemann said.

Quote of the Day – “I’m going to work regardless. This stuff that we go through, it builds you into a different type of man. Sometimes it’s like, wow. It pushes you to a different limit. It pushes you to limits you didn’t know you had, but I want to give it everything I have every single day. That’s what I think they notice.” – Walk-on linebacker Greg Jones.

Around Football  -- Michigan landed another big-time running back this week with the commitment of Groton (Mass.) Lawrence Academy’s A.J. Dillon. One of Dillon’s first recruiting trips was as an underclassman at Rutgers, but he did not receive an offer until Ash took over the program.

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