Rutgers football's first preseason practice of the fall was Friday, which offered several noteworthy developments according to media reports.
- Gary Nova is ahead of Mike Bimonte in the early race to back up Chas Dodd at quarterback. This is little surprise, with the conventional wisdom being that Nova was more polished in high school, but Bimonte offered significant long-term upside.
- Defensive tackle Anthony La Lota is getting a look at tight end. The depth at TE isn't great, and La Lota hasn't been able to crack the depth chart on the defensive line since arriving on campus. Hopefully this is a backdoor way to get him to embrace playing on the offensive line in 2012.
- End Justin Francis is getting a look at defensive tackle, with Mike Larrow moving out to end. This move makes a lot of sense with Francis being listed at 275 lbs on the latest roster. Francis should have a strong season pared next to Scott Valone. Larrow is very talented, and if the switch sticks, he now has another year to work on conditioning before trying his hand at DT again in a year.
- At second-team nose tackle, Taj Alexander jumped Isaac Holmes. That's the spot that is going to be a bit of trouble this year with no Eric LeGrand, but should be fine in 2012 after the kids take their lumps. Schiano mostly downplayed the change as being more everything being unsettled behind the starters. It's harder to develop nose tackles; pass rushing DTs like Ken Kirksey and D.J. Mera are more likely to see early playing time at the other DT spot.
- Linebacker Marvin Booker moved to end, which should just about solve the depth issues at end. Booker had a good spring, but would have trouble starting with Rutgers sporting an impressive starting trio in Ka'Lial Glaud, Steve Beauharnais, and Khaseem Greene. Similar converted linebackers have been very successful for RU in the past, which is one reason to be optimistic about Manny Abreu despite not generating much in the way of headlines during the spring. Rutgers is in very good shape there now, although backup DT is still inexperienced. Booker's position change also opens up room for a younger player to make the two deep at linebacker, where Edmond Laryea is likely the only certainty as a backup.