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Sunday, July 28, 2013

TOP 20: Proving it in Piscataway (No. 3)

Jeremy Deering, never an every-down player, will be responsible for unmasking opponents' pass games. (AP Photo)

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: Tyler_Barto

Five days 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. 3 — senior safety Jeremy Deering (6-foot-2, 200 pounds)

Why Deering's on the list: A player with no prior experience doing so will serve as Rutgers' last line of defense.

Deering is the face of Rutgers' rebuilt secondary, which lost three starters and two other major contributors from last year's 39th-ranked pass defense. 

He's got the speed and physicality to fit, but Deering only sparingly played defense even in high school. His learning curve — after playing both wide receiver and running back — will be steep.

If strong safety Lorenzo Waters plays closer to the line of scrimmage, it could leave Deering on an island and place a bigger premium on corners' man-to-man coverage. Deering will have to catch on quickly so Waters can be an eighth man in the box, which suits him best.

Waters struggled early last season in pass defense, taking difficult angles in pursuit. He already had two years of experience in Rutgers' system.

During training camp, keep an eye on: Deering's responsibility in the back end.

Former free safety Duron Harmon handled the majority of secondary calls, but he's now in
After Deering played running back in 2012, how much will
Rutgers try to disguise coverages to help him? (AP Photo)
the NFL and was groomed for two seasons before starting. 

How much comfort will Rutgers' staff place in a stopgap starter? Will it use a call-by-committee approach?

After a seldom-used 2012 season, Deering will be an every-down player for the first time in his career. Coordinator Dave Cohen will have to monitor Deering's job description as he goes.

Waters could serve in the role, but he figures to be around the line of scrimmage — where he finished 2012 with 6.5 tackles for loss — frequently.

2013 season outlook: Deering figures to make a smooth transition to the position after handling first-team duties during spring practice.

Provided his role is regimented, Deering should play instinctively, which he showed in burst last season in a failed experiment at running back. Expect some growing pains as Deering adjusts to varied pass defenses and route combinations designed to test him.

He will face several scenarios involving underneath and deep receivers. How he handles quick-twitch decisions remains to be seen.

More from the countdown: No. 2  Savon Huggins
No. 4 — Isaac Holmes

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