2012 Program Preview - Rutgers

Oh Mohamed. We hardly Sanu you. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Greg Schiano presided over the greatest stretch in Rutgers football in the modern era, but left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers doing so in good form. Up steps former offensive line coach Kyle Flood (no puns - I promise) taking over a talented Rutgers team that is recruiting better than anyone in the conference. It's odd, though, to see a coach take over in the midst of a program that is at its peak.

Rutgers has gone to a bowl game in six of the last seven years. Since 2005, they've gone 56-33. They're not a national powerhouse, but they're certainly getting stronger. Since 2007, Rutgers has seen 13 players drafted. In all years prior, only 23 had been drafted.

Put it like this - there aren't many other programs that have improved as quickly and as wholly as Rutgers.

After the jump, the prospects worth noting as well as some games and matchups to pencil into your calendar.

References

On the Banks (SBN Rutgers community), SB Nation team page, official team site, Bill Connelly's preview for SBN, CBS Sports preview

Notable offensive prospects

Name POS Yr. Early projected Rd (notes)
D.C. Jefferson
TE
RS Sr.
UD
R.J. Dill
OT
RS Sr. UD
Mark Harrison
WR
Sr. UD
Jeremy Deering
WR
Jr.
UD
Brandon Coleman WR
RS Soph. 7
Kaleb Johnson
OT
Soph.
N/A
Savon Huggins
RB
Soph.
N/A


Notable defensive prospects

Name POS Yr. Early projected Rd (notes)
Khaseem Greene OLB
RS Sr. 2-3
Steve Beauharnais
LB
Sr.
6
Scott Vallone
DT
RS Sr. 7
Duron Harmon
SS
Sr.
UD
Brandon Jones CB
RS Sr. UD
Logan Ryan
CB
RS Jr. 3
Jamal Merrell
OLB
RS Jr. UD


Summary

The makings of a top 25 team are here. There's talent at the skill positions (and say what you will about junior QB Chas Dodd and sophomore QB Gary Nova, but there's time to develop those two), and the defense is deep from front to back. The biggest concern is easily the offensive line. They just haven't recruited well on the offensive line. While there aren't standout talents on the D-line, it's strong enough to go from the first team into the third team for competent players.

Key games

South Florida (away) - Week 3 (Thurs., Sep. 13 - 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

This is the only game on Thursday night, and with Howard and Tulane to open the season, this is going to be huge. Along with Louisville, this is the class of the conference right now. Speaking of...

Louisville (home) - Week 14 (Thu., Nov. 29 - 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

More Thursday night Big East action in this game, but this is the last game of the year for both teams. I obviously had this as a notable game in my Louisville preview, and I can't exclude it here. The conference champion could well come out of this game...and it might be this contest that decides it.

Key matchups

CB Logan Ryan v. Arkansas WR Cobi Hamilton, Week 4 - Sat., Sep. 22

I didn't include this one in the key games only because I don't think Rutgers can compete with the Hogs yet. Still, this is a huge matchup for NFL fans looking for quality talent. Hamilton has a chance to shine now that Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs all got picked in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Ryan, on the other hand, may be the best NFL prospect on the team by year's end.

RB Jawan Jamison v. Pitsburgh LBs Dan Mason & Ejuan Price, Week 13 - Sat., Nov. 24

Jamison was the top rushing threat on the Scarlet Knights last year, surprisingly. Despite the inconsistency of his numbers, he flashed some impressive skills, especially in the West Virginia game. While he'll still be challenged by Savon Huggins, this late season game could be crucial for his draft hopes. Reportedly, he's dealt with the weight issues that plagued him early in his career. Going from the back to the front of the depth chart tends to motivate some guys. If Mason is anywhere near pre-injury form, he and Price will be a tough pairing to get past.

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