Ash Era Countdown: Most Valuable Scarlet Knights

The Ash Era countdown breaks down the most valuable Scarlet Knights of 2016.

5. Co-RBs Robert Martin and Josh Hicks – It remains impossible to mention one without the other in a Rutgers football conversation. Martin and Hicks will be the backbone of a new offense at Rutgers. Martin already called it a running back's dream, and Hicks likely would have said the same if made available for comment.

4. DT Darius Hamilton – Hamilton's experience, exposure and leadership bring major value to a transitional defense. If not for the lingering health concerns after a medial red-shirt, the former five-star prospect from Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep tops the list.

Hamilton is a trusted player in every aspect of the program. He will be a three-time team captain on top of it.

DEFENSEGSOLOASST.TOTALSACKS/YDSTFL/YARDSFFFRP DEFINT/YDS
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 -- -- --
2015 1 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
TOTAL 39 56 54 110 10.5 / 74 24.5 / 105 2 1 3 --

3. DB Anthony Cioffi – In an unsettled and chaotic defensive secondary, Cioffi was a productive presence since he sacked Teddy Bridgewater in his true freshman debut. Cioffi is not without mistakes, but he is always near the ball on big plays.

Cioffi transitions to strong safety after he played corner, nickel and free safety during three years. The senior defensive back screams New Jersey, and is the closest thing to a sure starter for the Scarlet Knights' secondary.

DEFENSEGSOLOASST.TOTALSACKS/YDSTFL/YARDSFFFRP DEFINT/YDS
2013 12 25 6 31 1 / 9 4 / 19 2 1 4 --
2014 12 27 2 29 -- 2 / 5 1 1 2 2 / -3
2015 11 36 9 45 1.5 / 11 3.5 / 22 -- 1 3 4 / 56
TOTAL 35 88 17 105 2.5 / 20 9.5 / 46 3 3 9 6 / 53

2.QB Chris Laviano – Too much experience is invested in Laviano for him to not be one of the program's most valuable players in 2016. Even if Laviano loses his grip on the starting position, a quarterback with a full season of Big Ten starting experience is invaluable. Quarterback is the highest-paid position in football for a reason.

Laviano's first starting season had bright spots – many thanks to Leonte Carroo – but he is a better fit and potentially dangerous with Drew Mehringer's power-spread system. Laviano's football communication skills make him important in a no-huddle offense. There is mobility to his game, and his arm strength concerns decrease in an offense not predicated on deep balls and long-developing routes.

PASSINGGATTCOMPPCTYDSLONGPASS EFFIC.TDINTYDS/G
2013 0 0 0 -- 0 0 -- 0 0 --
2014 5 28 11 0.393 107 22 64.2 0 1 21.4
2015 12 307 187 0.609 2247 58 131.8 16 12 187.3
TOTAL 17 335 198 0.591 2354 58 126.1 16 13 138.5

1. WR Janarion Grant– Based on spring camp, Janarion Grant is the Rutgers offense. Leading the team in touches during most competitive situations, the senior Grant brings huge value as a receiver and runner this season. Players like Jawuan Harris and Dacoven Bailey are inexperienced and unproven, so unlike running back, there are not a lot of options behind the starter. Grant is greatly improved from the kid that took his first-career touch 100 yards at Fresno State. A quarterback can only be so good without dynamic receivers. Grant is the key to Laviano's success in the same way Mohamed Sanu developed Chas Dodd and Tim Brown developed Tom Savage.

Oh, and he's also an All-American candidate in the return game.

RUSHINGGATTYARDSYDS/ATTLONGTDYDS/G
2013 13 0 0 -- 0 0 --
2014 13 5 52 10.4 24 0 4.0
2015 12 8 80 10.0 29 0 6.7
TOTAL 38 13 132 10.2 29 0 3.5

RECEIVINGGRECYARDSYDS/RECLONGTDYDS/G
2013 13 3 21 7.0 14 0 1.6
2014 13 25 312 12.5 53 0 24.0
2015 12 35 352 10.1 40 1 29.3
TOTAL 38 63 685 10.9 53 1 18.0

KICK RETURNGNOYARDSYDS/RETLONGTDYDS/G
2013 13 21 517 24.6 100 1 39.8
2014 13 36 910 25.3 71 0 70.0
2015 12 40 984 24.6 100 3 82.0
TOTAL 38 97 2411 24.9 100 4 63.4

PUNT RETURNGNOYARDSYDS/RETLONGTDYDS/G
2013 13 17 156 9.2 58 1 12.0
2014 13 6 45 7.5 23 0 3.5
2015 12 12 167 13.9 67 1 13.9
TOTAL 38 35 368 10.5 67 2 9.7

Honorable Mentions – RG Chris Muller, OC Derrick Nelson, DE Julian Pinnix-Odrick


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