By Tom Luicci
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (Aug. 19, 2014) – With a lineup that appears to be fairly set on both sides of the ball there isn’t a lot of room for fresh faces at Rutgers this season. But cornerback Dre Boggs may be the exception from this year’s recruiting class.
The 5-11, 175-pound Boggs appears to be – for now – the only true freshman non-specialist with a chance to crack the two-deep between now and the Aug. 28 opener against Washington State. Head coach Kyle Flood said today he isn’t sure just yet which true freshmen will have a role, or how many he may wind up calling upon this season.
Rutgers used nine true freshmen last year, with three earning starts at cornerback.
“I don’t know if it's completely set,” Flood said of the true freshmen who could see immediate playing time. “I think there are some guys that you can say right now are going to play, a guy like Boggs is certainly going to play. Maybe (there are) some that you know are going to play right now, and then more that we’ll make the decision as we get a little closer to game week.
“Some guys may help us on special teams. Guys like (Josh) Hicks and (Robert) Martin are guys that could help us on special teams right away. Possibly a guy like (cornerback) Kam Lott can help us on special teams right away. And then (we’ll) work (them in) and see what their roles become as they go through the year.”
Nadir Barnwell, Anthony Cioffi and Delon Stephenson were the three true freshmen to start at cornerback a year ago.
On special teams, true freshman long snapper Alan Lucy appears to have the starting job, making him an exception in the latest recruiting class.
With the switch of Justin Goodwin from running back to cornerback – where he is currently the starter – Hicks and Martin move up in the running back pecking order behind starter Paul James and Desmon Peoples.
True freshmen defensive linemen Eric Wiafe and Kevin Wilkins.meanwhile, have shown promise, but both may need a year develop. Depth along the defensive line is already one of this team’s strengths.
“I think at times he’s flashed (ability),” Flood said of Wiafe. “I think he’s still learning how to play within our system. He has flashed some good things that make you feel good, that as he goes through his career he’s going to be a productive player for us.
“But he’s a freshman and I don’t know if he’s quite ready just yet.”
In addition to appearances by former Rutgers stars Shaun O’Hara and Brian Leonard, ex-players Kevin Malast and Howard Barbieri took in the final practice of preseason camp today.
“I thought we got a lot of work done between last night and this morning,” Flood said. “It was a good practice out here. It’s great to have some of our alums here, people like Shaun O'Hara and Brian Leonard showing up at practice.
“I think it just confirms everything we feel about our program and the family aspect of our program. It really was great to have those guys address the team today after practice.”
Even with Boggs back and the secondary in general getting healthy again, Flood appears committed to the move that has Goodwin at corner, saying the sophomore is a starter at the moment.
“I think he'll impact the team more there,” he said. “I think at running back he would play for us and he would play a significant amount. On defense he may play every snap of the game. So I think he can have a greater impact of helping us win football games on the defensive side of the ball.”