Notebook: Priming for Spring, Part II

In the second of a two-part notebook, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano discusses who may step up and perform well to join the receiving corps in spring practice, which begins March 23. He also talks about the cornerbacks, tight ends, running backs and linebackers as the Scarlet Knights get ready to begin the pivotal 15-practice spring session.

There was Tim Brown and Mohamed Sanu, but that is as far as Rutgers' receiver rotation seemed to go last season.

Plenty of others got opportunities to factor into the rotation, with Mark Harrison came the closest to being a mainstay until a midseason concussion, but the position will be wide open in spring practice.

Among those trying to fit in with Sanu in the spring will be Harrison, Tim Wright, Aaron Hayward, Quron Pratt, Eddie Poole, Marcus Cooper and Keith Stroud.

"I think it will be a great opportunity too with these young receivers,'' Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. "I think these receivers are ready to take a step. They are all young. We can put them in a bag and shake them up.

"I don't know who is going to come out, other than Mohamed [Sanu]. None of them have a heck of a lot of experience.''

The only receiver with vast experience is fifth-year senior Julian Hayes, who had six catches in 11 games last season.

"There is a reason at this point in his career he hasn't broke the starting lineup,'' Schiano said. "Maybe it changes this year. I have to tell you this year Julian has worked as hard as I have ever seen him work. He has really found some energy in (receivers) coach (P.J.) Fleck's teaching.

"Hopefully that will propel him. It would be nice to have a grown man out there leading the way with the young guys."

If the Scarlet Knight cannot find the requisite depth needed in the spring, there will be plenty of options in fall camp with a strong receiving corps, led by Jeremy Deering, Brandon Coleman and Jordan Thomas.

Running back rotation
With De'Antwan Williams out of spring practice after undergoing knee surgery, Rutgers will be thin at the running back position.

And with Schiano not wanting to punish junior Joe Martinek with many carries in the spring, and with freshmen Casey Turner and Jawan Jamison not arriving until June, Schiano said walk-ons Tyrone Putman and Nick DePaola will get time at the position.

"We are going to have to move things around,'' Schiano said. "Tyrone Putman had really done some good things last spring and then he got hurt and broke his arm. I see things there and he is going to get a shot now. He is going to figure out if he is good enough to do it at this level or not. He will get a lot of carries.''

Fullback Robert Joseph will also line up tailback so the carries are distributed.

"We are not going to make the mistake of wearing Joe [Martinek] out, I can promise you that,'' Schiano said. "There will be other guys that get touches."

Tight position
When asked if about the tight end position, and if D.C. Jefferson was a given and Paul Carrezola, Tony Trahan, Evan Lampert and Malcolm Bush would battle behind Jefferson, Schiano pointed out the top person at the position is not yet decided.

"Even D.C., I would throw him in the mix,'' Schiano said. "He played last there and kind of split time with Shamar [Graves]. You look at [Paul] Carrezola and [Tony] Trahan and Malcolm Bush and Evan Lampert and all those guys are going to get reps. I love it because they have a new coach and all got a fresh start with Phil (Galiano).

"It will be interesting to see. D.C. As I have said many times, he has all the tools to be as good as there is and again, we have to connect the dots."

The non-Sanu Wildcat
Sanu not only made his mark as a receiver last season, but his ability to run the ball out of the Wildcat formation gave the Scarlet Knights a semblance of a running game.

But it also took a toll on Sanu, and Schiano mentioned the possibility of one of the incoming freshman running the Wildcat package as well.

"Maybe we have some ideas for guys that are coming in,'' Schiano said. "I would be premature to speak of that. That is some place I think a guy can come in that is very athletic and not have to think too much and use his abilities."

During the recruiting process, Deering said Rutgers talked to him about running the Wildcat.

Linebacker pecking order?
There will be mixing and matching at the linebacker positions, where Steven Beauharnais could move to the middle after playing outside as a freshman.

But Schiano stopped short of saying there is firm list of starters.

"I don't know if there is a pecking order,'' Schiano said. "Lowery has experience. I think Steven came on really well at the end of the year. He is a very talented guy. A guy like Ka'Lial Glaud, who played on special teams, and I think now is his time to lineup and go. I have every bit of confidence that he can.''

Jimmy Dumont could also factor into the two-deep, and Schiano said he was interested to see how Manny Abreu performed.

"It is his time now,'' Schiano said. "He has had opportunities and stints as a starter and he is in and he is out. Here it is, Manny. You have a chance now to be the guy for two years. You have to grab it and go with it. You have good competition there.

Covering the corners
Another area of depth is at cornerback, where David Rowe returns but Devin McCourty must be replaced.

However, Rutgers stock-piled talent there in red-shirting Darrell Given, Logan Ryan and Abdul Smith.

"We were able to redshirt some really good players last year, really as a group for the first time,'' Schiano said. "I think those cornerbacks really got a chance to compete. Obviously with Devin graduating, there is a position up for grabs. They are all up for grabs. It wasn't like David was a shutdown, lockdown guy every snap.

"There will be some competition at the corner spot. I think (safety) Joe (Lefeged) is the leader back there. He will get them lined up and play with great intensity and lead by example. Joe has become a little more vocal too which is good."

Scarlet Report Top Stories