2012 OUTLOOK: Rutgers is perennially a Big East contender, but hasn't been able to take that next step and win it outright to take the BCS berth that goes with it. New coach Kyle Flood has talked about getting the Scarlet Knights to the next level, and there's a vacancy atop the Big East with West Virginia gone. The Scarlet Knights have the talent to contend, but the question is whether it will gel in time to make that happen.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE
Dave Brock says he'll keep the pro-style offense that the Scarlet Knights ran a year ago, a big relief considering the players have all been recruited to play that style. Of course, the big question is who's going to play the key roles. Rutgers enters the offseason uncertain at both quarterback and running back, with an offensive line that is being retooled and a receiving corps that has to replace Mohamed Sanu. It's definitely a unit that will need to take advantage of every minute of spring practice.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE
The defense should look very similar in 2012. Special-teams coach Robb Smith takes on the DC role under Kyle Flood and said he expects to play the same core system that the team ran a year ago. That's good news for a veteran crew that brings back a lot of experience, with Khaseem Greene poised for a Defensive Player of the Year-caliber season if he can come back from the leg injury he suffered in the bowl game.
SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS
There are a lot of new faces and position battles here, but the return unites get a boost with the sixth year of eligibility earned by Mason Robinson, who will be back on both the punt and kick return crews. Jeremy Deering will join him on kickoffs and has shown the explosiveness necessary for the position. Nick DeLouisa and Kyle Federico will fight for the starting placekicker job, while Justin Doerner and Anthony DiPaula are competing to be the punter.
OL R.J. Dill -- The Maryland transfer is eligible immediately since he's already gotten his undergraduate degree. He could start right away and will be a big asset in a position where the Scarlet Knights could use all the help they can get.
K Kyle Federico -- Federico is a true freshman, but he enrolled early to compete for the starting job in spring practice. He and Nick DeLouisa will compete to replace the departed San San Te as the placekicker.
DL Darius Hamilton -- Hamilton was the jewel of the 2012 recruiting class. The USA TODAY All-America, Rivals.com National Defensive Player of the Year and consensus five-star recruit should play right away, and it was also key that he maintained his loyalty to the program even after the coaching change.
--DL Scott Vallone was expected to miss the spring because of a shoulder injury.
--A pair of Scarlet Knights expected to play key roles this season are still sidelined from injuries suffered in 2011. Khaseem Greene, a revelation on defense a year ago, might have been an NFL candidate had he not injured his leg in the bowl game. He's out for the spring, as is TE D.J. Jefferson, who is still rehabbing his injured ankle.
--WR Jeremy Deering has made the switch to wideout from running back. It's a way to get the speedy Deering the ball and have him more involved in an area where he can make plays.
--S J.T. Tartacoff moved to the defensive backfield. He began his career as a wideout, but the Scarlet Knights are thin in the secondary and he should have more of an impact on the defensive side of the ball.
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