2009 Rutgers Football Preview

Dani CaplanCorrespondent IAugust 21, 2009

Quarterback: The Scarlet Knights will have a big hole to fill at quarterback due to the absence of the school's all time passing leader, Mike Teel.  Dom Natale appears to be the one who will be under center come September 7th.  Fighting for the backup role are redshirt freshman DC Jefferson and true Freshman Tom Savage.  Jabu Lovelace, who was in the running for the starting job, is now getting reps at wide receiver.

Running Back: There are four backs in the running for the workhorse back.  Leading the race is Sophmore Joe Martinek, who is probably Rutgers' most talented back, with a good comination of power and speed.  More of a power back, Jourdan Brooks should also get a chance to start.  Kordell Young could also get some touches, providing his knees are healthy.  Finally, Deantwan Williams, the freshman with Ray Rice comparisons, could be in the mix, but will probably sit behind the more polished backs.

Wide Receiver: Rutgers all-time leading receiver Kenny Britt is gone to the NFL, along with Tiquan Underwood, so there are definitely questions surrounding the inexperienced receiving core.  Tim Brown will emerge as the #1 option in the passing game.  True freshman Mohamed Sanu (6"2 215), a safety converted WR, is set to be the #2 option and the Scarlet Knights big target.  Others who will be in the receiving mix will be senior Andrew Dapaola, and juniors Julian Hayes and converted WR Mason Robinson.

Tight End: Shamar Graves will be the starter at tight end for Rutgers.  Fabien Ruiz will look to back him up, but true freshmen Paul Carrezola and Malcolm Bush could fill that role.  Look for Shamar Graves to see time at receiver while one of the backups take the tight end spot.

Offensive Line: All five starters from last years O-line return, creating the best line in the big east and a top 5 group in the nation.  All American/Outland Trophy candidate Anthony Davis is the anchor, followed by Rimington Award Watch List member Ryan Blaszczyk.  Senior Kevin Haslam, and Sophmores Calub Ruch and Art Forst round up the formidable front.  Howard Barbieri adds depth to the already solid line.

Defensive Line: On the ends, George Johnson and Alex Silvestro, combining for 18 TFL in 2008, will rush the QB.  Jonathan Freeny will help in doing so.  Stuffing the middle wil be redshirt freshman Scotty Vallone, Blair Bines, and Charlie Noonan.  True freshmen Antwan Lowry and Isaac Holmes should see time at the DT position.

Linebackers: Senior and Bednarik Watch list member Ryan D'Imperio will lead a talented group of linebackers. Manny Abreu, Damaso Munoz, and Antonio Lowery will all get plenty of time at the LB position.  Look for highly recruited redshirt freshman Marcus Witherspoon to get some time this year.

Secondary: The Scarlet Knights are loaded at the DB position.  At safety, they start veteran Zaire Kitchen, and rising star Joe Lefeged.  David Rowe, who had 4 sacks at CB as a true freshman, will get time at safety.  At the Cornerback position, 5th year senior Devin McCourty is a lock at one of the starting slots but the other starting job is up for grabs.  The leading candidate is Brandon Bing, followed by 5th year senior Billy Anderson.  Talented Freshmen Darrell Givens, Logan Ryan, and Abdul Smith will also be in the running to start.

Special Teams: Rutgers returns punter Teddy Dellaganna, who is a 2nd team All Big East selection by Athlon Sports and Lindy's and averaged about 42 yards per punt.  Kicker San San Te, a preseason 1st team All Big East selection by Sporting News, will return after hitting 12 of 17 field goals last year.  The return game should consist of Devin McCourty, Kordell Young, Tim Brown, and Mason Robinson.

Overview:  The Scarlet Knights have the Big East's best O-line to block for the league's deepest backfield.  The D looks to be the best throughout the league as well.  So when you combine those three, you get a league championship.

Prediction: RU has a favorable schedule wit South Florida, Pitt, Cincy, and West Virginia (their 4 biggest Big East threats) at home.  Their out of conference games shouldn't be too difficult (Texas Southern, Florida International, Howard, Army, and Maryland).If RU wins the opener at home against Cincy, they could get 10, 11, or even 12 wins.