Although the secondary as a whole has struggled at Rutgers, the safeties in 2015 were somewhat of a bright spot. Anthony Cioffi proved himself to be great ballhawking FS while Kiy Hester stepped in at SS and played very well for a true freshman. These two will likely be the starters in 2016, as no one on the roster poses a legitimate threat to their starting jobs. Davon Jacobs started 2015 as the starting SS but over time, Hester proved to be a much better option.
Cioffi seemed to be just about everywhere last year and was always producing big plays. He had a great interception against Christian Hackenberg which gave Rutgers a glimmer of hope. He also had a huge interception against Indiana which was crucial in their ridiculous comeback victory. Don't forget Kiy Hester and his toe-drag interception against Connor Cook and Michigan State which stopped the Spartans from scoring right before half time. That was the biggest play of the game for Rutgers in that game, as they would've never been in the game if that had been a TD. Hester can also hit and is a very sound tackler. He offers the full package and might be the best defensive back on the team in 2016.
Sr Anthony Cioffi
RS-So Kiy Hester
RS-So Saquan Hampton
RS-Jr Andre Hunt
RS-Fr D'Won Walker
RS-So Talib Abdur-Ra'oof
RS-Sr Davon Jacobs
So Najee Clayton*
Clayton has an asterisk because he is probably switching to linebacker this year. Nothing is official and he is still listed as a DB on the roster. Davon Jacobs is back once again, but has likely permanently lost his job to Kiy Hester. Anthony Cioffi returns for what feels like his 7th season at Rutgers. Saquan Hampton will be a very good backup to Cioffi and him and Jacobs are very safe options as second-string safeties. Andre Hunt is a walk-on who has performed well when called on to make plays but is not an every down player. Abdur-Ra'oof and Walker still have some developing to do but can earn playing time in the near future.
Will Najee Clayton switch positions?
It is very likely that Najee Clayton will move to SAM linebacker. He was projected to move there after last season but that was under the old coaching staff. For all we know, Chris Ash wants to use his size at safety and use him to replace Anthony Cioffi. However, with the need for linebackers who can play in pass coverage, Clayton is a strong candidate to switch positions this Spring, especially since he won't be a starter at either safety position this year.
Can Kiy Hester fix his timing?
Hester was clearly the best SS on the roster last year and proved to be one of the best tacklers on the whole team. However, he had a knack for always being a fraction of a second too late. There were numerous plays where he would read a route and go to jump it and be a hair late and the offense would capitalize. He missed a pick six because of this but right now, I think we can attest it to him being a true freshman on this roster and not knowing all of the playbook. However, he should be smarter and better this year and I expect him to make many more big plays.
Anthony Cioffi, the Full-Blooded Italian, has loyally served the Scarlet Knights for the past three years. He was forced into action at CB during his true freshman campaign. However, he rightfully moved to safety where he ball skills and size are more of an advantage. He has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Can he keep it up? Let's hope so. He will be the leader of the defense next year, as there is only so much Darius Hamilton can so as a defensive tackle. He is the most experienced player in the back seven and it isn't even close. In fact, Kiy Hester is more experienced than anyone who will be playing linebacker this year and he only has seven career starts. Cioffi will have to be responsible in keeping the defense in order and is right up there with Darius Hamilton as the most important defensive player.
FS: Anthony Cioffi // Saquan Hampton
SS: Kiy Hester // Davon Jacobs
Tomorrow: #10Strong Spring Preview | Special Teamers!