The Headline – The way cornerbacks coach Henry Baker sees it, he has three starters for two spots. Juniors Blessuan Austin and Isaiah Wharton may have the experience edge, but sophomore Damon Hayes is just as involved in a three-person rotation in training camp.
“I think all three of those guys are just iron sharpening iron, going out there and forcing each other to compete, forcing guys to be competitive and kind of raise their level of play. We're in a fortunate spot to be able to have three guys who can go out there and compete. They're getting better every single day.”
Hayes arguably improved the most in his first offseason with Rutgers. It started off the field.
“I think Damon has done a really good job, more so, in the classroom,” Baker said. “Now it's translating onto the field. He's really become a student of the position or a student of the game. He works hard at it. He studies it. Now it's just about creating those habits that are going to allow him to make plays on the field. I think he's done that off the field first, and now you're starting to see it translate on the field.”
The position leader in takeaways this spring, Hayes said film is a factor after he barely watched it in high school.
“I was trying to (watch film) but I didn't know what I was doing with that stuff in high school,” Hayes said. “We were just out there playing ball.”
Worth Noting – Any playing time behind the top three cornerbacks is up for grabs in training camp when reinforcements arrive.
“We are (looking for guys),” Bakers said. “Kobe (Marfo) is coming along well. Zane (Campbell) was coming along early on in the spring. Those guys, they've still got a lot of work to do but they're climbing. I think those guys will be able to contribute. I think those guys will be able to find roles. They've got some more work to do in terms of being able to help us out on the defensive field.”
Quote of the Day – “We need to be (competitive). We try to sit there and breed that type of mentality every single day. There's arm wrestling in the room. We've got them shooting baskets. Any kind of situation we can get these guys to be competitive, it helps to the style of football that we want to play, especially on the outsides.” – Baker on competitiveness in press coverage.