Hands down may be best fit

Defensive tackle has often times been a position on the Rutgers football team filled by smaller players, with the conversion generally from the end spot further inside. Ramel Meekins was one notable exception.

Eric Foster found success in this role, earning defensive All-American honors as a junior in 2006 and a job in the NFL.

Pete Tverdov did as well, making 13 tackles for loss during his senior season and helping Rutgers win three consecutive bowl games.

Eric LeGrand is no different.

Now a sophomore, LeGrand has finally found a true position as he expects to serve as a defensive tackle in the upcoming season after playing just about every position possible last season.

During his freshman year, LeGrand saw time at linebacker, defensive end, defensive tackle and even fullback on the other side of the ball.

"[Playing all of those different positions] was definitely a learning experience," LeGrand said. "I think I learned a lot at different positions. The more you can do the better so I think that I can excel at one position and I can go excel at another position if they need me."

The Colonia, N.J. native came into the Rutgers program as a three-star middle linebacker recruit, but quickly made his way up the defensive line depth chart as Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano searched to replace Foster and an injured Gary Watts. He finished his freshman year with 1.5 tackles for loss and 14 overall.

"My freshman year was great because I learned so much from the older guys," he said. "[No Tverdov or Jamaal Westerman] is definitely a huge loss for us this season. But rebuilding won't be a problem because instead of rebuilding, we reload. Those are two great players that we had, but I feel like we are already reloaded on the defensive line and we will develop just like they did when they were young like us."

Schiano said that LeGrand will stay on the defensive line this year where he is currently listed as a backup defensive tackle on the two-deep depth chart. That stability allowed LeGrand to focus more on his body during the offseason where he added 22 pounds of muscle. The sophomore now weighs 254 pounds.

"[The muscle has] not slowed me down at all," he said. "I'm still running really well. We always have a battle between me, [Jonathan Freeny and Sorie Bayoh] to see who is the fastest D-lineman on the team. So I haven't slowed down at all."

LeGrand said at practice yesterday that he feels that defensive tackle is the position that suits him best and that he is currently more than pleased with his role on the team.

"I think I'm anchored into that nose tackle position. I'm loving that position. I think it's the best thing for me and the team … That's the best spot for me right now since I got a lot bigger and a lot stronger over the break."

LeGrand then added that he would not be opposed to a position change in the future if he were asked to move.

"I'll play anything, but right now, I'm enjoying myself and doing whatever the coaches need," he said.

Practice Notes:
The Scarlet Knights will have their first padded practice tomorrow in what will be their fourth of 15 spring practices.

Schiano said that everyone will hit with the exception of the quarterbacks.

Schiano also took time out to address certain injuries after practice saying that sophomore kicker San San Te and junior safety Joe Lefeged are on track for recovery.

Te had back surgery in the offseason to help improve his kickoff ability and is expected to start kicking by the end of spring practice.

Lefeged returned to the practice field today, but participated on a minimal scale.


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