The Competition – Rutgers is in a good place when it comes to defensive end. Seniors Quanzell Lambert and Julian Pinnix-Odrick lead the charge as projected starters, and both are converted from other positions. Lambert brings the leadership and speed of a former middle linebacker while Pinnix-Odrick rotates back to the edge after he replaced Darius Hamilton as a three-technique last season.
|2014||12||10||5||15||2 / 12||2 / 12||1||1||--||--|
|2015||12||20||13||33||1 / 7||3 / 10||2||--||3||--|
|TOTAL||24||30||18||48||3 / 19||5 / 22||3||1||3||--|
The most unique competition comes in rounding out the rotation. A health issue and coaching change sent Boston College graduate transfer Malachi Moore to Rutgers for a final season. Moore brings 29 games of ACC-level experience and four sacks to the defensive line.
Then there's the wildcard of wildcards – Kemoko Turay.
The star of the 2014 Rutgers defense and a name with considerable NFL buzz, Turay took two steps back as a sophomore. Injuries limited Turay in spring and he starts over from scratch this summer. If you're building a defensive end from the ground up, you start with an athlete like Turay.
|2014||13||15||11||26||7.5 / 59||8.5 / 62||--||--||1||--|
|2015||11||8||1||9||2 / 19||3 / 21||--||1||2||--|
|TOTAL||24||23||12||35||9.5 / 78||11.5 / 83||--||1||3||--|
Preferred walk-on Darnell Davis Jr. is a hard worker that deserves some form of on-field role. He, converted linebacker Myles Nash or one of the younger players could be a perfect fourth defensive end if Turay continues injury issues.
Storyline Central – Rutgers football is always most dangerous when it gets to the quarterback. That disappeared last season in an effort to protect a dilapidated defensive secondary. Well, Rutgers bulked up its numbers in the secondary and the Chris Ash defensive philosophy should mean more sack opportunities and more turnovers.
The pressure is on Rutgers cornerbacks in 1-on-1 coverage, which opens up new opportunities for defensive ends. Rutgers is deep enough at defensive end to rotate five or six bodies and always be fresh. The Rutgers defensive line is the most experienced unit Rutgers has, so let the horses run free.
Prospect Development – While veterans like Lambert, Pinnix-Odrick and Moore conclude their college careers, the next wave of Rutgers defensive ends sits in incubation. Players like Ron'Dell Carter, Jimmy Hogan and Willington Previlon can expect some playing time this season but Rutgers does not have to put too much responsibility on the future of the position.
Carter and Hogan both pushed for playing time in spring camp. They should do the same
After a post-graduate year, Piscataway (N.J.) High's Elorm Lumor spent most of the spring injured. He brings a hybrid athleticism to defensive end and can grow into a good coverage option for the Scarlet Knights.
Preseason Grade – B+ – Rutgers has a ton of exciting depth but not enough proven pass rushers. A new defense should mean more sack opportunities with Pinnix-Odrick and Lambert as the cornerstones. Get a healthy Turay with the right work ethic and the GPA rises significantly.