Lefeged Has Plans For Even Bigger Hits

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — What remains the ideal approach for a freshman to draw attention from his coaching staff? Earning five tackles in his second collegiate appearance, followed by drilling the opponent's quarterback in his third career game, sounds like an appealing strategy.

Joe Lefeged provided a necessary spark for Rutgers' football program last year, while given the opportunity to compete with an injured starter in the secondary.

Head coach Greg Schiano inserted Lefeged, a first-year recruit out of Germantown, M.D, into the rotation because of safety Ron Girault's's knee injury.

"I didn't think I would have played as much as I did," Lefeged said. "With Courtney (Greene) and Ron (Girault) being here, they made it a lot easier for me. They were there for me when things got a little tough and helped me with the playbook."

If the 6-1 195-pound defensive back plans to earn a starting spot this season, he must contend with Glen Lee, another solid safety in the program.

"Joe and Glen have been alternating each day with the first team, so we're just trying to figure out who is the other guy outside of Courtney," Schiano said after Saturday's practice.

If the 2007 season indicated Lefeged's capabilities, imagine the impact he can make with a year of experience under his belt.

"Joe's got great abilities, being able to play his position well," Schiano said. "It's lining up correctly, disguising correctly, all the little things you see when they make a catch or a tackle, I see when they don't make the right disguise… You have to do it all. You have to know the game, you have to understand the game. Right now Joe's growing as a player, learning all those little things."

While Scarlet Knights fans may have grimaced after noticing an injured Girault in the second quarter of the season's third game, someone stepped up in a hurry to ease their concerns.

In the second quarter, Lefeged dropped Maryland's quarterback for a timely sack, earning much praise from his teammate and supporters.

Lefeged deflects the credits towards elder statesmen Greene and Girault, a former Rutgers safety, for the continued progress.

"Coming here, defense was a lot different than I was used to in high school," Lefeged said. "They (Ron and Courtney) were there with me every step of the way, helping me learn the plays."

"Most of it is off the field, like watching film on your spare time and practice habits," he added. "On the field, you try to do your job to the best of your ability, practice habits and off the field, studying and playbook."

When asked what motivates Lefeged to sack the quarterback or running back with such vibrating force, he calmly responded, "It's my job."

"I try to do my job to the best of my ability," he said. "Part of my job is tackling and bringing the ball carrier down as fast as possible. That's what I try to do, and playing for the team, playing for the coaches and playing for the organization."

In addition to learning better eating habits, Lefeged also gained weight, at least 10 pounds, and muscle to improve his defensive prowess.

"Right now I'm around 200 pounds," Lefeged said, "and I'm working hard every day with coach (Jay) Butler, eating a lot healthier, getting a lot of rest."

Lefeged enjoyed the change of scenery last season from high school to D-I, despite not winning the ship, as he would have liked.

"It was a tough adjustment, but playing for coach Schiano, playing for the team, it was a lot of fun," Lefeged said. "Last season, we didn't have the outcome we wanted to of course. We have that behind us now, just trying to come out here now and take steps needed to win the National Championship."

If last year represents an indication of Lefeged's potential, considering his solid numbers (3.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss in 13 games), and he heeds the coaches' messages, beware of an intimidating force in the secondary. He may ambush you from any angle.

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