One unit that really didn't live up to expectations in 2015 was the defensive line. Part of this was due to the season long injury of Darius Hamilton, although that may be for the better, as he earned a medical redshirt and will be able to play in 2016 as a 5th-year senior. The other glaring issue was the absence of Kemoko Turay. He was rumored to be injured for the duration of the season and only registered 2 sacks, compared to his 7.5 his freshman year.
Julian Pinnix-Odrick was hyped up during fall practice, but never really made a huge impact, even though he was the primary starter at 3T and had no shortage of playing time. The pass rush in general was nonexistant, as the team leader in sacks was Quanzell Lambert with 2.5. As a unit, they registered 8.5 sacks That is simply terrible. To put things in perspective, that number of 8.5 would put them 31st in the nation among INDIVIDUAL players. That means 30 players registered more sacks in 2015 than the entire Rutgers defensive line. That is something that Shane Burnham will have to change very quickly.
RS-Sr Darius Hamilton
RS-Jr Kemoko Turay
RS-Sr Quanzell Lambert
RS-Jr Sebastian Jospeph
RS-Fr Ron'Dell Carter
RS-Fr Kamaal Seymour
RS-So Kevin Wilkins
So John Bateky
RS-Fr Kenneth Roman
RS-Fr Willington Previlon
RS-Sr Julian Pinnix-Odrick
RS-Jr Myles Nash
RS-Jr Darnell Davis
RS-So Jimmy Hogan
RS-So Eric Wiafe
Fr Elorm Lumor
The good news is that the only player the unit loses is Djwany Mera, who really had no position but managed to start every game he was healthy for because that's the type of player he was. The unit is also very young. There were a lot of defensive lineman in the recruiting class of 2015 that took redshirt years, including Kamaal Seymour, who people are very excited about. If coached right, this group has plenty of potential.
The revival of the Kemoko Dragon
There is no doubt Kemoko Turay was a huge disappointment last season, whether it be injuries or poor coaching. This year, there are no excuses. He has had plenty of time to heal and has new coaching. In my opinion, Turay's biggest downfall has been his football IQ. He is always looking lost on the field and was doing this inexplicable for B1G caliber linemen. Shane Burnham will have to invest time and patience into Turay, as he is incredibly athletic and talented, but just needs to get his mind right and make sure he is fluent in the basics of football, because for some reason, the simplestthings have been holding him back
Darius Hamilton sized up
Darius Hamilton had an incredibly successful season in the B1G in 2014 when he was listed at 6-4 255. This year, he was listed at 265, and he could be all the way up to 285-290 this year. From seeing him in person a little over a week ago and what he has said to reporters, he is focused on getting a lot bigger. Hamilton's technique as a DT is off the charts, as is his athleticism. At 285 pounds, he will be an absolute nightmare, especially as a 5th-year senior and fully grown man.
One thing I am certain about Chris Ash is that he won't let the undersized D-linemen strategy fly. He comes from schools like Ohio State and Wisconsin where they breed big bodies. There will be no more playing for speed and technique to make up for size. He brought in the big man Kenny Parker to help breed these guys into B1G-sized linemen. There will be non of attempting to make a 260 pound linebacker a nose tackle. Rutgers is now playing to compete in the B1G, not just keep up.
Position Prediction (2-Deep)
DE: Jimmy Hogan // Kemoko Turay
3T: Darius Hamilton // Kamaal Seymour
NT: Kevin Wilkins // Sebastian Joseph
DE: Julian Pinnix-Odrick // Quanzell Lambert
Tomorrow: #10Strong Spring Preview | Linebackers