Rutgers football sophomores Tariq Cole and Blessuan Austin earned All-Big Ten Honorable Mention the conference announced Wednesday evening. Additionally, fifth year senior Julian Pinnix-Odrick was awarded a Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
Tariq Cole: Cole transitioned to left guard this season after playing primarily on special teams in 2015. ProFootballFocus.com recently named Cole as one of the 5 most underrated players within the Big Ten Conference.
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.
Blessuan Austin: Austin continues to improve at a much needed position for the Scarlet Knights defense. The secondary has struggled the past few seasons, however pass defense improved this year allowing 7.73 yards per pass attempt this year in conference play, compared to 8.29 yards per pass attempt the year prior. Austin registered 14 pass breakups, while also recording 41 tackles, one sack, and a fumble recovery.
Julian Pinnix-Odrick: Captain JPO started all 12 games this year for the Scarlet Knights at the defensive end position leading the team with 5 sacks. He also recorded 56 tackles on the season. More importantly, JPO was a tremendous leader and mentor both on and off the field and he will be sorely missed next year.
Despite the disappointing season, it’s clear there are some bright spots within this team that did not go unnoticed. Congratulations to Tariq Cole, Blessuan Austin, and JPO!