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Friday, June 21, 2013

TOP 20: Proving it in Piscataway (No. 20)

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: Tyler_Barto

Six weeks remain until the start of Rutgers training camp. This top-20 countdown will run infrequently, documenting who's got the most to prove in 2013.

No. 20 — redshirt freshman OG Chris Muller (6-foot-6, 300 pounds)

(Courtesy of
Why Muller's on the list: Rutgers' top-ranked offensive line commit in 2012 earned his first reps with the first team this spring at the expense of fifth-year senior Antwan Lowery, an All-Big East First Team pick.

The move came late in spring practice — days before the team's Scarlet-White game — and is likely just sending a message to Lowery, who prior to 2012 was widely inconsistent. Still, Muller's the first of Rutgers' five-man 2012 o-line class to gain traction, and it's noteworthy.

It's also telling since Muller came from a highly run-first offense at Boyertown High School (Pa.). At 6-foot-6, he has a tackle's frame, but he benefits from at least starting off inside to receive pass-blocking help.

Year 2 is huge for college offensive linemen, who arguably make the biggest adjustment from the high school game — from technique, physicality and assignment standpoints. Time will tell if Muller, in a lineman-friendly offense, can make a noticeable jump.

During training camp, keep an eye on: First-team reps and, more importantly, when they occur. The past few camps have featured shuttling o-line rotations, so it's hard to get insight until the season opener approaches. 

If head coach Kyle Flood and o-line coach Damian Wroblewski knew they had a proven commodity in Lowery and needed more looks at Muller in the spring, it'll show early enough. 

But the more Muller sticks around — and sophomore Keith Lumpkin at tackle, possibly unseating fifth-year senior Andre Civil — it could be an indictment of Rutgers' practice of converting d-linemen under former head coach Greg Schiano

2013 season outlook: Flood will likely make it a point to get Muller on the field during nonconference play. Barring any uncertainty with Lowery, Muller will be one of the first linemen off the bench. 

There's little to suggest Muller — under Flood, whom he endorsed for head coach in 2012, and second-year position coach Wroblewski — won't make significant strides in his second season, even if they aren't noticeable at High Point Solutions Stadium.

More from the countdown: No. 19 — Delon Stephenson

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