Top 5 Spring Answers, Questions

Rutgers concluded its 15-session spring practice with Saturday's Scarlet-White game, and during the month-long process clarity was gained in some areas, while other issues remained clouded. breaks down the Top 5 answers coming out of spring practice, and the Top 5 issues that need to gain clarity before the Sept. 2 opener against Norfolk State.

Spring practice is not the end-all, be-all in determining what a team will look like in the fall, but it often is a strong barometer for how things will shape up as the start of the season nears.

A week ago Rutgers finished its 15-practice spring session with the Scarlet-White game, and by the conclusion of it some things stood out, with several key issues gaining clarity while other issues remained cloudy.

Before we begin our spring recap next week, and knowing an intense training camp awaits for the Sept. 2 opener against Norfolk State, presents its Top 5s -- a list of want went well in spring practice followed by a list of what remains unclear heading into August's fall camp.

Top 5 answers

1. Receiver depth

There is still plenty of room for others to develop, but Tim Wright and Quron Pratt gives the Scarlet Knights reason to exhale when it comes to receiver depth. Rutgers struggled to find three consistent receivers in 2009, and with the graduation of Tim Brown, it left Mohamed Sanu and Mark Harrison as the only returners with plenty of experience.
Wright and Pratt caught the ball well, ran proper routes and blocked in the running game. It is a good building block for the passing game, and the depth in the receiving corps.

2. Beauharnais in the middle
Steven Beauharnais played on the outside as a freshman, but the plan is for him to run the defense through 2012, and his transition to middle linebacker went well. He put the defense in the right spot and showed speed and fluidity in playing in the middle of the defense.

3. Khaseem doesn't look Greene
With the graduation of Zaire Kitchen, Rutgers needs a new free safety, and hard-hitting and athletic Khaseem Greene showed he is ready. His positioning was strong, he pursued to the ball and increased the amount of film room work he did. It resulted in him gaining a stranglehold on the position in the spring, and will enter fall camp as the starter.

4. Tight spot
Rutgers has a history of successful tight ends, and it should continue with D.C. Jefferson and Paul Carrezola. Both played well in the spring, with Jefferson committing to becoming a better blocker, and then following through on it. At 6-foot-6, 245 pounds, he is hard to cover down the field, and he has soft hands.
Carrezola red-shirted last season, but his talent is unmistakable. He blocks well, catches well, runs good routes and understands the nuances of playing tight end. This should open up the passing game much more than a year ago.

5. Good youth on the OL
Coverted defensive tackle Antwan Lowery missed the end of spring practice with a hand injury and Betim Bujari didn't participate in the first few practices because of an undisclosed injury, but there was enough to see that both can be very good.
Lowery, who plays guard, is quick, athletic and moves well. Bujari's technical skill is very high, especially considering he graduated early and enrolled at Rutgers in January. Both are young and may not start this season, but both should be staples on the offensive line in the years to come.

Top 5 questions out of spring
1. What will the O-line look like?

Injuries robbed center Howard Barbieri (knee), Lowery and Devon Watkis (ankle) of a full spring, and tackle Desmond Wynn (shoulder) missed all of it because of offseason surgery, the unit was a mish-mash.
Sprinkle in the tinkering that saw guard Art Forst play right tackle, not to mention the unfamiliarity of each other, and there is no wonder the unit was inconsistent.
Of everything that goes on in training camp and early in the season, this unit will be the most scrutinized.

2. Who are on the corners?
Not all questions are bad.
Coach Greg Schiano said after spring practice the cornerback positions are up for grabs, which means returning starter David Rowe is yet to nail down one spot. The good news is there was plenty of talent showcasing their abilities in the spring, which Rowe, Brandon Bring and Logan Ryan all doing well.

3. Martinek and who?
In all honesty, the question of running back depth could not be settled because Joe Martinek was the only healthy scholarship ball carrier available in spring practice. But one thing to check on in August is whether Kordell Young and Mason Robinson (both coming back from knee injuries) are ready and able to be the third-down back.
Also, incoming freshman Jawan Jamison and Casey Turner will factor into the running back competition, which is a long way from being decided.

4. Who is backing up Savage?
Steve Shimko did it in the spring, and although he progressed from start to finish, Schiano said there will be competition for the spot when talented, strong-armed freshman Chas Dodd arrives. Beyond that, if something goes awry with Savage, Sanu and incoming freshman Jeremy Deering could spent a lot of time running the Wildcat package.

5. Te or Sullivan?
Schiano said he liked the way incumbent San San Te kicked in the spring, but consistency is an issue, which means walk-on Kyle Sullivan will still have a chance to win the job in training camp. Te has a big leg and loads of potential, but his first two seasons have been plagued with inconsistencies.

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