Sam Hellman / Scarlet Report

Rutgers Spring Practice 1: Great Offseason for Kemoko Turay

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- It is hard to earn a compliment from Rutgers coach Chris Ash, but defensive end Kemoko Turay got plenty after spring practice No. 1 for the Scarlet Knights.

The Headline – Kemoko Turay had a 2016 to forget, but by the comments Thursday from coach Chris Ash, it only became fuel.

Turay missed much of 2016, but his 2017 is off to a “great” start. The pass-rushing specialist moved smoothly in his first spring practice. He has the attention of a coaching staff that challenged him last season.

“Kemoko is in a different position right now,” Ash said. “Last season, he was dealing with rehab. He couldn't lift. He couldn't practice. When you're in that situation and you're a good player, it's frustrating. It's tough. He's had a tremendous offseason. He's been healthy. He's been able to work out.”

Turay's numbers in the weight room are way up in Kenny Parker's second season in charge of strength and conditioning.

“He's gotten his shoulders healthy again and he's built up upper-body strength,” Ash said. “Last year, I hate to throw these numbers out because they may be off a number or two, but I think he could bench press 225 (pounds) like five or six times. Now he's at 19 or 20. His upper-body strength has definitely changed. He's a lot more confident in himself because of that. He's in great shape. He's going to be able to practice all spring.”

Rutgers lost three senior defensive linemen last season, including defensive end Quanzel Lambert. 

“If we can make Kemoko Turay an every-down player, guess what? We're going to be a lot better,” Ash said.

Worth Noting – Returning starter Giovanni Rescigno remains the favorite at quarterback with senior Zach Allen as the best competition and sophomore Tylin Oden in the mix.

“They all got some reps today,” Ash said. “Gio is the returning starter, but nothing is given. It's got to be earned, and Gio knows that. He's going out, through the course of spring practice hopefully, to become the No. 1 quarterback when spring is over. Right now Gio is taking reps with the first team.”

Quote of the Day – “We've got to create competition because that's something that is really lacking in a lot of spots. Some of that competition may not come until some of those newcomers come in the fall.” -- Ash.

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