A New Face in the Crowd

Damaso Munoz is a six foot and 216-pound linebacker for Rutgers University and is going to be a big influence in whether the Scarlet Knights win big this season or come up short.

Damaso Munoz showed that he might be ready to turn the corner and become an impact player on this defense following his performance against Navy last weekend. Munoz was flying all over the field and covered a lot of ground from his linebacker position. He finished with 12 tackles, which ranked third on the team.

"His speed is very explosive," defensive tackle Eric Foster said. "For a guy his size to get up there and knock people back. Also, his play-making ability really sticks out." Munoz big play ability was on full display with a tremendous hurry of the Navy QB in the second quarter - that hurry ended in a rushed pass and a Ron Girault INT in the endzone.

Munoz hails from Miami, Fl, where he went to Southridge High School. During his time there, Munoz was a standout wrestler that lost in the state finals by one point, but has a good sense of humor about it.

"I don't like to talk about," Munoz said.

Wrestling is something he had in common with his first roommate at Rutgers, Kevin Malast. Both wrestled in high school and would consistently brag about which state had better wrestlers, Florida (Munoz) or New Jersey (Malast). But before he got to Rutgers, Scarlet Knight Head Coach Greg Schiano had to convince Munoz to take the trip north and play "On the Banks."

"I just wanted to be a part of something good," Munoz said. "Coach Schiano told me that it was going to be a good thing here and told me to be apart of it."

Coach Schiano has been one of the important people in Munoz' life and has taught him how to be a better football player.

"(Coach Schiano taught me) How to prepare," Munoz said. "He is a coach that likes to prepare. He is a perfectionist. He taught that to the defense, how to prepare really well."

The coaching staff has been pleased overall with the performance of Munoz, who in limited playing time last season recorded seven tackles.

"Linebacker is the hardest position today in college football, other than quarterback," Coach Schiano said. "It used to be that you played the lead power game, now you have gun/run one week, option the next week, sprint the next week, there are some many different things."

With all the different looks that are being thrown at Munoz, the coaching staff does there best job to make him feel comfortable with those looks, by creating simulations in practice.

"When you have young guys, its not day to day, it is play to play," Coach Schiano said. "In order for us to be the defense we want to be, we need to get him more experience. We try to create as many situations as we can, to make him feel like he is in the real thing."

With a lack of experience among RU linebackers coming into the season, there were a lot of question marks as to how the group would play. The doubt that people had, fueled the desire of this unit to go out and play well, including Munoz.

"We didn't want to be looked at as a question mark, so I think it is a tribute to the hard work that we did over the summer," Munoz said.

Munoz will have a lot to work on as he continues to gain experience as a player. For now, however, Munoz is going to take his cue from the team captains, including tri-captain Eric Foster who can see the how good Munoz can be if he puts it all together.

"He's showing a lot of potential, but it is just the small things that he has to take care of," Foster said.

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