Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 2, 2015

Rutgers? debut season in the Big Ten went better than most expected.

[ MORE: Rutgers team homepage | 2014 Rutgers stats | 2014 Rutgers schedule ]

Kyle Flood led the team to an 8-5 record capped by a bowl victory over North Carolina. And Flood will welcome back some key cogs next season, as he looks to build on his 2014 success.

The offense will have running backs Desmon Peoples, Josh Hicks, Robert Martin, Justin Goodwin and Paul James back. And wideouts Leonte Carroo and Janarion Grant are returning along with tackle Keith Lumpkin.

The defense will have tackle Darius Hamilton, end Kemoko Turay and linebackers Quentin Gause and Steve Longa as building blocks next season.

Rutgers lost some key players, however, including guard Kaleb Johnson, wideout Andrew Turzilli, linebacker Kevin Snyder, cornerback Gareef Glashen and fullback Michael Burton.

[ MORE: View all of Tom Dienhart's players to replace in 2015 posts ]

Here are the top five Rutgers players who must be replaced.

C Betim Bujari. The offensive line had its ups and down in 2014. But Bujari was a consistent force for the Scarlet Knights, who averaged 162.6 yards rushing. He was the leader of the front, making all of the line calls.

TE Tyler Kroft. It was a surprise of sorts that Kroft turned pro. His junior season was less than stellar, as he caught just 24 passes for 269 yards and no TDs. In 2013, he had 43 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns. A change in coordinators may have been the cause for Kroft?s drop in production.

DE David Milewski. He was good at bringing pressure up front for one of the most underrated defensive lines in the league that also included tackle Darius Hamilton and end Kemoko Turay. Milewski finished with 57 tackles to go with nine tackles for loss and four sacks.

QB Gary Nova. He leaves campus as one of the best quarterbacks in school annals. Nova hit 57 percent of his passes for 2,851 yards with 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2014. His 73 career touchdown passes are the most ever in school annals.

S Lorenzo Waters. He was a leader in the back end of the defense, finishing third on the squad in tackles with 71. He added five tackles for loss with two interceptions. Waters was good at playing the run.

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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