Football was back in Piscataway today as Rutgers took the field for the first spring practice of the year. This is head coach Chris Ash’s second run through the spring and he was optimistic once the session concluded.
“I thought we had a clean practice, a crisp practice, fairly fast and efficient,” Ash said. “I saw a lot of progress in guys that played a lot of snaps in the past so I am happy to see what those guys look like today.”
There were some offseason changes as secondary coach Bill Busch has been given the title of co-defensive coordinator.
“I think Bill does a great job for our program and it is well deserved,” Ash said. “Jay [Niemann] is our D-coordinator who will call the defense and organize the defense, but Bill Busch will be heavily relied on.”
Another coaching note is that offensive line coach AJ Blazek has been given the title of assistant head coach.
“He does a great job for our program and is tremendous with our players,” Ash said of Blazek. “He is great out in public, whether it be with high school coaches, fans, donors, whoever it may be. AJ is high energy, is very intelligent. He cares about people, does a great job in our program and is a guy I lean on a lot.”
Ash also took the opportunity to highlight the injury situation and noted that tight end George Behr will be put on medical scholarship and will no longer be playing football. Behr had an injury riddled career and was in street clothes helping out with the tight end positon.
Redshirt sophomore cornerback Jarius Adams will miss the spring with an injury while wide receiver Janarion Grant, guard Marcus Applefield, tight Jerome Washington, linebacker Ronnie James, kicker David Bonagura and linebacker Tyreek Maddox-Williams will all be limited through the spring.
Meanwhile, junior starting linebacker Trevor Morris is a bit limited, but that did not prevent him from having a strong first day of practice. He and fellow starting linebacker Deonte Roberts earned an early endorsement from Ash.
“Roberts and Morris have played a lot of football and their practice today was better than any practice they had all last year,” Ash said. “Both of those guys have physically and mentally improved. They understand the defense. They communicated better than they ever had, great football stances, their footwork was good. They reacted and played a lot faster than they did a year ago. Those two guys are clearly our best linebackers now.”
The quarterback competition also got started today as Gio Rescingo returned to his starting role while Zach Allen and Tylin Oden earning backup reps.
“They all got some reps today,” Ash said. “Gio is the returning starter. Nothing is given, it’s got to be earned. And Gio knows that and he is going out throughout the course of spring practice and hopefully becomes the No.1 quarterback when the spring is over. But right now, Gio is taking reps with the first team.”