Wednesday Practice Report: Free Safety Update

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Defensive backs coach Bill Busch brings the latest on the Rutgers secondary, led by a health update at free safety.

The HeadlineSaquan Hampton still awaits medical clearance from Rutgers ahead of Saturday’s Homecoming matchup with Illinois.

The sophomore’s status remains unknown, but defensive backs coach Bill Busch updated the situation after Wednesday’s practice.

“He’s never been out for the season,” Busch said of Hampton. “That’s why we haven’t made any comments on him, type of thing. So he’s always a work in progress for us right there.

“One thing I can say, 100 percent, is he’s definitely getting a lot better. And like I said, that’s handled by our medical staff and they’re clearing it, obviously. If you are staff and coach Ash and everyone like that, there’s nothing more important than someone’s safety and they have to be 100 percent to be back in.”

Hampton has not appeared in a game for the Scarlet Knights (2-4, 0-3) since the opener at Washington.

But if Hampton is available this week, Busch said he would play.

“He’ll be a lift, absolutely, and he’ll play,” Busch said. “Like I said, (Hampton) only played maybe a quarter so far, so he’s probably lost some game speed. But once he’s cleared to play, he will be in there and he will play. The number of reps will be determined, kind of where he’s at with conditioning and everything else with what’s going on with him.”

Busch also said he has confidence in junior Ross Douglas and true freshman K.J. Gray behind Hampton and Kiy Hester at free safety.

Worth Noting – With the Illinois’ quarterback situation fluid, Rutgers prepares for multiple signal callers.

Starter Wes Lunt, a pocket passer, was injured in the Fighting Illini’s 34-31 loss to Purdue last week. Backup Chayce Crouch, who had 17 carries for 137 yards and two touchdowns as Lunt’s replacement, gives Illinois a dual-threat replacement.

“You have to (be ready for both) you have to,” said senior defensive tackle Darius Hamilton. “Everyone has to be on their keys. Every man has to be accounted for. When you have a quarterback who can run and throw, that causes misfits. I don’t care what level you play this game on.”

Quote of the Day – “It is what it is. We put ourselves in this position. Now it’s time to dig ourselves out. That’s what we’ve got to go to work and do.” – Senior defensive tackle Darius Hamilton on Rutgers being six-point underdogs to Illinois (1-4, 0-2).

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