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Friday, July 5, 2013

TOP 20: Proving it in Piscataway (No. 16)

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: Tyler_Barto

Less than a month remains 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. 16 — sophomore defensive tackle Darius Hamilton (6-foot-4, 260 pounds)

Why Hamilton's on the list: Hamilton arrived a year ago as Rutgers' top-ranked commit in school history, a coup in a recruiting class based on relationship-building.

(Courtesy of
Pressure for immediate results from blue-chippers will always persist. Despite being featured heavily in the Scarlet Knights' tackle rotation, Hamilton recorded 17 tackles and 1.5 for a loss.

Because of his frame, Hamilton is still a tweener prospect. A full offseason will likely do him justice once players report Aug. 2. 

At the three-technique (where a tackle lines up on the outside shoulder of a guard), Hamilton will likely not deal with the same double teams nose tackle Isaac Holmes recovering from two offseason wrist surgeries — will account for.

Year 2 serves as a legitimate evaluation point for every player, but expectations for Hamilton could be tempered if Rutgers' defense remains one of the nation's top units against the run.

During training camp, keep an eye on: Rutgers' situational packages. Hamilton's frame and skill set could allow him to be a three-down tackle in 2013, giving coordinator Dave Cohen flexibility on passing downs.

If Cohen chooses to move fifth-year senior end Jamil Merrell inside on third downs — he played there after Holmes went down last season — you could see four pass-rushing bodies at each spot on the d-line. That's without Rutgers' blitz-heavy tendencies.

2013 season outlook: Focusing on only one position 
— he opened training camp in 2012 at end — Hamilton will benefit from the return of second-year d-line coach Jim Panagos.

On a projected front four Holmes calls Rutgers' biggest since 2009, Hamilton could flourish as the team's best inside pass rusher since Justin Francis two years ago.

Rutgers will manage his responsibilities to put Hamilton in positions to succeed. That means scheming for one-on-one matchups, opening space on stunts and playing freely.

More from the countdown: No. 15 — Steve Longa
No. 17 Tyler Kroft

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