Sure, there are the guys like Darius Hamilton, Anthony Cioffi, and Janarion Grant that we know are great players and crucial to Rutgers’ success. However, with so many open spots, especially on defense, there are going to be plenty of guys that will improve greatly and have breakout seasons. I will now attempt the near-impossible and try to predict which players will take their games to the next level in 2016.
Hampton spent last season mostly as a third-string safety. When Davon Jacobs went down, Hampton became Kiy Hester’s primary backup. Hester garnered a lot of much deserved hype following the 2015 season. However, Hampton has stepped up and seems to be the frontrunner to be the starting free safety. It speaks a lot about Hampton’s game and his improvement that he has been able to seriously challenge one of the best players on the defense for their starting spot. Now only Rutgers fans know he is really good and will be a player that bursts onto the scene in 2016.
Clayton is on this list for a number of reasons. For one, he showed a lot of promise as a special teamer last year and we know he can play. However, he never played on defense. He has bulked up and will move from safety to strong-side linebacker. Chris Ash has made himself by coaching this hybrid position better than anyone in the country. Clayton is a great athlete with tons of potential who can easily develop into one of the best linebackers in the B1G in the coming years. If you want to see what Clayton will be doing on defense, just check out this video of Darron Lee’s highlights at Ohio State.
Sure it seems weird to have a starter on this list, but I think Miller can make the leap to being an elite offensive guard this year. He had lots of potential coming out of high school and is slowly showing it. He became a full-time starter last year and is a part of four returning starters on the offensive line. He is now used to size and talent level of B1G interior linemen and should be much improved from last year.
Joseph has had a good an offseason as one could. He has been constantly recognized by the coaches for his effort and improvement. He has squashed any idea of Kevin Wilkins taking his starting spot. In fact, towards the end of last season, it seemed that Wilkins was slowly taking over at nose tackle. However, Joseph has 100% earned his job and is now the clear cut starter. He was consistent in 2015, but was nothing special. I feel that he can partner up with Darius Hamilton and be a pretty deadly inside duo. He is ready to take his game to another level in 2016.