5. Develop What You Have – Rutgers is without plenty of projected starters or second-teamers in spring. That number will only rise when inevitable injuries take place in practice with concern already at linebacker and tight end. Leading receiver Jawuan Harris is across town at Bainton Field this spring. Johnathan Lewis is getting ready for prom while Ryan Anderson and Gus Edwards wrap up academic responsibilities at their previous colleges. Rutgers has opportunities to create major competition at positions like quarterback, receiver, running back and linebacker. All under-performing groups during the 2016 season, the competition starts with players that are available on Thursday for day one.
4. Build Some Recruiting Momentum – While the commitment waves usually remain calm until camp season, Rutgers will have tons of visitors on campus with Saturday as its first serious opportunity. Coach Chris Ash hauled in a strong first recruiting class, including New Jersey's top player Micah Clark, but he needs four more classes with just as much talent if not more.
3. Mr. X – There are always unexpected spring stars, and Ash showed last year that he rewards those that step up (no, not with actual spring awards but Ash is open to their return when players earn them). Walk-on Greg Jones turned an active spring into the starting weakside linebacker spot. Trey Sneed's fast buy-in as a true freshman made him an instant contributor in an seasoned running back room. Who does it in 2017? On the other side, spring practice demonstrates program needs that workouts do not.
2. Find the Right Leaders – There are leaders that hold a team together during a 2-10 season and then there are leaders that get themselves suspended or miss practices in training camp. Ash needs another wave of Darius Hamilton and Julian Pinnix-Odrick clones in his locker room. Leadership starts in winter conditioning, but takes the next step when players get on the field for real this week. Rutgers needs more leaders in the locker room, in front of the Big Ten media and on the recruiting trail. Your players are your best recruiters.
1. Reignite the Fire – Rutgers has a solid group of seniors. Solid, however, could become an understatement if the coaching staff can get more out of previous play-makers. Kemoko Turay has freak athleticism and NFL potential, but he cannot capitalize on that from the bench. Following a series of shoulder surgeries and a need to work harder, can Turay get back on form in his final season?
The same questions stand for running backs Robert Martin and Josh Hicks. Can Lester Erb get more out of the duo than former coach Zak Kuhr? The graduate transfer of Edwards and opportunities last season for Sneed should be motivators for Martin and Hicks.