Veterans like Flip Dixon believe that the Rutgers football defense can be even better this year

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — With most of their starters returning, the Rutgers football defense has the potential to take another step forward as a unit. One of those returning pieces is safety Flip Dixon, who had a strong first season with Rutgers in 2023.

An addition out of the transfer portal, Dixon had 76 total tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and five passes defended last year for Rutgers.

With a number of big pieces opting to return, the Rutgers defense is arguably the most experienced in the Big Ten. They were seventh in the Big Ten in scoring defense and sixth in yards allowed per game.

For Dixon, there is a belief that the unit can take a step forward in 2024 and be even better.

“I’m very excited. We got a lot of people coming back. Basically, the whole defense just about – so I’m very excited to see what we can do,” Dixon said on Thursday following practice.

“I know we will do better than last year, for sure.”

One of the pieces not returning for Rutgers is Max Melton.

The defensive back, who had one year of eligibility remaining, opted to declare for the NFL draft. An All-Big Ten selection, Melton is appearing in mock drafts in the top half of the NFL draft and is popular as a second-round pick.

The loss of Melton will hurt the secondary, given that he was an elite cornerback in the Big Ten.

“I love Max. He’s a great player, phenomenal,” Dixon said.

“You know, he, he’d been here for well, he helped me get used to it here. And it was a great time with him.”

No group is more experienced than the safeties room, with Dixon and Des Igbinosun both returning as starters. For safeties coach Drew Lascari, this is quite the luxury to have.

The safeties will be relied on this upcoming season for Rutgers as a foundational unit. With two players who are All-Big Ten caliber (Dixon was an All-Big Ten selection last season), this Rutgers defense has the potential to be a top-tier unit in the Big Ten.

“I think for us, the expectation of our room now is to take the next step and what is the next step?” Lascari said on Thursday.

“Well, that’s the next step with everything. Okay, we want to take the next step with our nutrition, with our rehab, with our recovery, with our sleep. And then on the field, our playbook.

“So, with two returning starters that we have a lot of faith in. We’re really excited about the next steps that we’re going to take as a group.”

Story originally appeared on Rutgers Wire