The Competition – The basic concepts are the same at Rutgers, however the play-calling style remains to be seen before Chris Ash and Jay Niemann coach their first game. Rutgers will still have a space-eating nose guard and an impact tackle that lines up as a three-technique.
The situation at the other defensive tackle spot is less clear. Fifth-year senior Darius Hamilton is the clear first choice but his reps and role depend on health. Injuries sidelined Hamilton last season, and limited his role during the offseason. Eric Wiafe was normally the first man in for Hamilton.
Rutgers also has the luxury of multiple ends that can play inside under the right circumstances. Julian Pinnix-Odrick worked as a defensive tackle in Kyle Flood's system and Boston College graduate transfer Malachi Moore brings good length and pass-rushing instincts. Jon Bateky fits the same mold with ability on the edge or inside but he may not see as much time as a sophomore with more overall depth at the position. That depends on Hamilton's health.
|2012||13||4||13||17||--||1.5 / 2||--||--||--||--|
|2013||12||20||28||48||4.5 / 29||11.5 / 46||1||1||3||--|
|2014||13||32||13||45||6 / 45||11.5 / 57||1||--||--||--|
|TOTAL||39||56||54||110||10.5 / 74||24.5 / 105||2||1||3||--|
|2013||1||1||0||1||--||1 / 3||--||--||--||--|
|2015||12||15||7||22||1 / 5||5.5 / 17||--||--||--||--|
|TOTAL||26||16||10||26||1 / 5||6.5 / 20||--||--||--||--|
Storyline Central – Is Rutgers Ready for Big Ten Wars? – Being new does not fly as an excuse anymore because Rutgers is both experienced and deep at defensive tackle. Line coach Shane Burnham has a solid pair of 300-pound nose guards with in-game experience, a fifth-year senior captain at the heaviest in his career and a stable of younger weapons for depth.
For those that call the Big Ten a big man's league, this isn't the same Rutgers that had to use David Milewski as a 240-pound nose tackle in the American Athletic Conference.
Prospect Development – Meridian (Miss.) late addition Julius Turner represents the lone newcomer to the position at a scholarship level. Turner isn't the biggest interior lineman but he's a fighter. Red-shirt him, bulk him up, and you have an exciting young weapon for the next wave of nose guards.
Bateky and Kamaal Seymour did not see as much action in spring as Wiafe. Both could end up in developmental roles as second-year guys.
Preseason Grade – B+ – Hamilton's lack of offseason participation is the only question mark that holds defense tackle back from the honor roll. Rutgers is bigger, stronger and smarter on its defensive line. With an evolving secondary and three new starting linebackers, the big men lead the way for Rutgers in 2016.