Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, January 27, 2016
Rutgers will begin its third Big Ten season under transition. Kyle Flood is out. Chris Ash is in, hired away from his job as defensive coordinator at Ohio State.
Ash has work to do, especially on a defense that ranked No. 13 in the Big Ten overall (462.0 ypg) and 12th in scoring (34.9 ppg). The offense will be undergoing a scheme change, making this a critical spring on both sides of the ball. One of the biggest position battles will come at quarterback between Chris Laviano and Hayden Rettig. Other talent back on offense is RBs Josh Hicks and Robert Martin, WRs Andre Patton and Janarion Grant and several veteran linemen.
The defense will be bolstered by Ts Keith Hamilton and Julian Pinnix-Odrick and some young talent in the secondary that had a baptism of fire last year led by CBs Isaiah Wharton and Austin Blessuan and S Anthony Cioffi.
But some key players are gone.
Here?s a look at the top five players Rutgers must replace from 2015.
WR Leonte Carroo. In a season marred by suspension, Carroo played in just eight games but still was the team?s offensive MVP. He was named honorable mention All-Big Ten by the league coaches and third team by the media. Carroo led the team in receptions (39), receiving yards (809) and touchdowns (10). The guy was a big-play machine who just caught TD passes.
K Kyle Federico. He has been the kicker the last four years, creating a big void. Federico hit 12-of-16 field-goal attempts last year. He leaves campus with 46 career field goals and 123 PATs for 261 points.
LB Quentin Gause. A steady force in the linebacking corps on the strong side, Gause earned honorable mention All-Big Ten from the media. He finished second on the team in tackles with 96 and paced the Scarlet Knights with 12 tackles for loss. He also broke up two passes.
LB Steve Longa. Third-team All-Big Ten by the media and honorable mention by the coaches, Longa was an active force who was selected as the team?s defensive MVP. Longa led the team in tackles (117) and forced fumbles (2) and tied for second on the squad with two sacks before opting to turn pro early. He was a good athlete with a nose for the ball.
LT Keith Lumpkin. The giant left tackle was honorable mention All-Big Ten by the media and coaches. Lumpkin received the Bender Trophy which is given to the team?s best offensive lineman. He was part of an offensive line that helped RU average 169.9 ypg on the ground.