Rutgers Practice Report: Eye on Defensive Line, Darius Hamilton

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- With the focus on injury management for Darius Hamilton and Kemoko Turay, new Rutgers defensive line coach Shane Burnham spoke Tuesday about his unit. Coach Chris Ash cited the defensive line last week as a strength for the program.

The Headline –  Rutgers continues to manage reps for Darius Hamilton after an injury-plagued season shut him down and allowed a return for a fifth season.

The former Scout five-star recruit is back at practice and involved in full contact drills. Limitations in practice are up to Hamilton, who could be a three-time team captain this year.

“Darius is good,” said defensive line coach Shane Burnham. “Old man Darius, you just have to manage him a little bit. He knows his body. We’ve asked him to be honest with us and the most important thing for Darius is to be healthy this fall, so we’re trying to manage his reps this spring.

“We want him to get quality work against the offense so he can knock the rust off and improve his game. At the same time, we know that we don’t play for several months. It’s just being smart and not being too aggressive. Really that’s on him to manage it.”

Hamilton rests during certain early periods in practice but remains a key part of the defensive line in team situations.

“We’re trying to get him all of the team work and group work that we can towards the end of practice, some scheme specific things with the new defense he can get involved in,” he said. “The short-long of it is, manage his early practice reps in [individual drills] and give him the majority of the team reps towards the end.”

Hamilton worked the majority of practice with Sebastian Joseph as his first-team defensive tackle mate inside.

“He’s a great leader for us,” Joseph said. “He’s just always there to motivate us and we can go to him with anything. It’s great to have him out at practice with us because we missed him when he was gone.”

Worth Noting – The search for a faster defense will include a four-defensive end attack on clear pass rushing downs. Rutgers ran similar packages with Quanzell Lambert and Julian Pinnix-Odrick inside last season, but could get more aggressive this season.

“We’ve got the get the best guys on the field and get the slugs off the field and then go in gaps and push the middle,’” Burnham said. “… We’ve got to build it through situational football.”

Quote of the Day – “You’re not going to see a 6-foot-4 tackle in this league, and if you are, somebody probably made a mistake in recruiting. These guys are 6-foot-5, 6-foot-6, 6-foot-7, whatever they are now. You’ve got to take a bus fare to get around them half the time.” – Burnham on the challenge of Big Ten offensive lines.

Around Football  -- Sterling (Va.) Dominion three-star tackle Tommy Christ ended his recruitment this weekend with a verbal commitment to Virginia. Christ picked up a Rutgers offer in February, and has strong family ties to the program. He opted, instead, for his in-state Cavaliers. 

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