In a season where the Rutgers offensive line has had its fair share of struggles and has constantly seemed overmatched, there has been one lone bright spot in left tackle Tariq Cole.
Interestingly enough, Cole, a redshirt-sophomore, is one of Kyle Flood’s “recruiting gems” as he only had offers from Rutgers and Temple coming out of high school.
What Cole is most know for, however, is his body transformation. He was at one point 400 pounds but has slimmed down to 313 pounds. He gained weight at the end of 2015 and had to another transformation. Per an NJ.com article:
He went from 345 pounds and 24 percent body fat to 313 pounds and 17 percent body fat in seven months
He is now starting at the most important position on the offensive line and is pretty darn good. Pro Football Focus, who also rates college football, released a list of their 5 most underrated players from every conference. In the B1G, they have Cole in the top spot and here is what they had to say about him:
When your school loses back-to-back games by a combined score of 136-0 (even when you didn’t play in one of them due to injury), it’s easy to get lost in the mix. However, Rutgers LT Tariq Cole has had a strong season despite the rest of his team’s struggles and deserves to be recognize as the Big Ten’s best blind side protector.
His specialty is pass protection, where other than one poor showing against Iowa and Anthony Nelson, he has given up just one pressure in six games. His 82.6 overall grade is the best in the conference, and 11th-best nationally, and he also owns the Big Ten’s top pass- and run-blocking grades.
He grades as the best left tackle in a conference famous for their offensive lineman and SB Nation’s B1G Site, Off Tackle Empire, is named for that very reason. He is also rated as the best run blocker and best pass blocker, aka the best blocker period. This is pretty damn impressive and definitely a reason to remain optimistic about this team. As AJ Blazek continues to build his ideal offensive line, Cole will be the main piece for him to build around.