Incoming freshmen should have a tougher time seeing the field for the offense in 2013. The team returns several key players who at this moment, have a solid hold on the starting positions, and some units are so stacked that the two-deep will be tough to crack.
- Candidate: Dorian Miller (OG)
The 2012 recruiting class was heavy on blue-chip O-line recruits, and returning starters Kaleb Johnson and Betim Bujari are now mainstays of the unit. This means that Dorian Miller is looking at a redshirt year from Kyle Flood & Co. With all of the talent on the offensive line going into 2013 (and even 2014), it's hard to see any freshmen making a play for the two-deep. Furthermore, offensive line is notoriously difficult for freshmen to make an immediate impact, even if you are a consensus five-star recruit. Consider it a good problem to have for Rutgers.
- Candidates: Dontea Ayres (RB), Justin Goodwin (RB), Delon Stephenson (CB), Devan Carter (RB/FB)
It's Savon's time. The highly-ranked recruit has been given the keys to the running game, and it's up to him to seize the opportunity for a truly breakout season. So far, his game has been more about potential than production, and his career numbers reflect that (175 att, 556 yds, 3.2 avg, 7 TD). We've seen what he can do against Cincinnati, so he has the skill and talent to become the workhorse.
To spell Huggins, Desmon Peoples and Paul James are available, but have little game experience. Ben Martin showed promise last season, but has decided to leave the team. With little experience behind Huggins, it's entirely possible that some freshman can turn some heads this fall and earn the backup job. Ayres looks like a solid RB prospect with the build to become a workhorse, but he did not play his senior year of high school due to a knee injury and was in the process of recovering during spring ball (although he did participate in drills). If all goes according to plan, I can see Ayres producing by mid-season. Justin Goodwin was a RB at Madison High School, but he has been listed as an ATH on several sites and may or may not switch positions. Delon Stephenson is currently listed at defensive back on the Rutgers roster, but Jeremy Deering is set to start at safety after three years at WR, so you never know.
Devan Carter has been listed as both LB and RB, but at the moment it seems offense is where he'll start practicing. At 6'3", Carter has the build to become a steamroller type of RB/FB hybrid (I really liked the setup that Darrell Hazell employed at Kent State with Dri Archer and Trayion Durham). Michael Burton has a lock on the starting spot for FB, but a backup is definitely necessary after witnessing how badly the running game faltered late last season with Burton out. Sam Bergen is not a certainty for a backup, so Carter could be useful here.
- Candidate: Chris Laviano (QB-PP)
Gary Nova was never pulled from the bowl game against Virginia Tech, so that should tell you all you need to know about any chances that Laviano has for playing time. Flood insists that Nova is his guy, and time will tell if he made the right choice. Chas Dodd has won big games for Rutgers and Blake Rankin has dual-threat athleticism to go with his arm, so it's very likely Laviano will be receiving a redshirt and clipboard for 2013.
- Candidates: Andre Patton, Janarion Grant, John Tsimis
Senior leaders Tim Wright and Mark Harrison are off to the NFL, but there is still plenty of talent on hand to make up for the losses. Brandon Coleman was named to the 2013 Biletnikoff Award watch list, and Quron Pratt brings plenty of game experience to the unit. Miles Shuler is still looking for his breakout year, and 2013 serves as his best chance yet. Filling out the two-deep shouldn't be a problem, with Leonte Carroo challenging both Pratt and Shuler for the second starting spot behind Coleman. Carlton Agudosi, listed at 6'6", is poised to continue the tradition of super tall Rutgers wideouts. Ruhann Peele was highly-ranked as a recruit as well and could get some looks during camp. That doesn't leave too many possibilities for incoming freshmen WRs, but you never who could become the sleeper in this class.
- Candidates: Taylor Marini (TE-Y), Nick Arcidiacono (TE-Y)
D.C. Jefferson is gone, leaving only three tight ends listed on the current roster. Paul Carrezola has plenty of game experience and is a proven pass-catcher. He is definitely serviceable as a blocking tight end with his stout frame, but I don't expect too much from him as a premier blocker. The same goes for Tyler Kroft, who was primarily a pass-catching tight end in high school. His game experience as a Scarlet Knight exacerbates this point. Marini and Arcidiacono are both blocking TE recruits, so their is a good possibility for either player to see the field. With such a strong emphasis on the running game, I can see plenty of TEs being used this year, and that means a good chance for Marini and Arch.
I see big things for the offense in 2013, and consequently, less of a chance for freshmen to make a big impact on the offensive side of the ball. What do you think? Leave your comments below!