The timing of a hamstring injury may be good news for second-year Rutgers defensive back Lawrence Stevens. Stevens was on a path to special teams as a true freshman before a game-three hamstring injury ended his season.
Because of the injury, Stevens has four years left and big goals in the Rutgers defensive secondary.
“Just like last year, I have to make a name for myself,” Stevens said. “The best I can do is make an impact and try to help this team win games.”
Coach Chris Ash discussed Stevens as a future-scholarship player. The walk-on from West Point Prep backed up Kiy Hester at safety this spring.
“I'm bouncing back well,” Stevens said. “I had a good winter as far as getting my strength back in my hamstring. It was very frustrating last year to get hurt in the first game. The coaches have been on me hard. The trainers have been pushing me to get back to what I am. I'm stronger and faster and now I know the playbook better. It's been a better spring than all fall last year.”
Before Army Prep, Stevens was a starter at Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep.
“I like to keep the tradition going,” Stevens said. “We've had a lot of New Jersey guys at Bosco. We need to keep that tradition alive, get Tyler Friday and all of those guys here. You can be a part of something here before it starts. It's about to be very bright and you don't want to miss that. I believe in this program.”
Stevens credits coaching for development in his first offseason. From Ash's defensive back history to meetings with assistants Bill Busch and Henry Baker, Stevens said he appreciates the constant flow of information.
“You can never get enough knowledge,” he said. “We have a lot of experience all over the field. It's good to have so many different coaches to go to.”
Stevens flew under the radar as a recruit because of his 5-foot-8 frame. The red-shirt freshman plans to let his attitude do the talking this season.
“You can't measure someone's heart,” Stevens said. “There are a lot of people out there that are shorter than me doing big things. Height is just height, just a number.”