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Monday, September 9, 2013

Lil' Wayne inspires Marcus Thompson's new ploy for Rutgers' defensive line

Isaac Holmes (72) and the Rutgers' defensive line have adopted a weekly evaluation of toughness through index cards. (AP Photo)

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

A training camp idea has morphed into a defensive line mantra.

With inspiration from Lil' Wayne, Marcus Thompson schemed to make sure Rutgers' front four maintained toughness throughout the season. 

How? By creating "Third" cards for each of the Scarlet Knights' defensive linemen, adding and subtracting points based on displays of grit.

"If you have a bad play or you get pancaked  — as a d-lineman, nobody wants that," Thompson said Monday. "You just got like bullied. We'll be watching film and (say), 'Oh, that's a point.' We'll take a point off the card or add a point if you have a sack or a big play, tackle for loss."

Thompson issued each defensive linemen an index card with their name at the start of the summer, beginning with five points. Most of the younger players, including true freshman Sebastian Joseph, have drawn his ire.

"The young guys, you have to see those guys," fifth-year senior Isaac Holmes said. "They really pride on that. They look at Marcus when he comes around and hope he doesn't see if they get beat on a play."

IN PRINT: Offenses make it difficult to gauge Rutgers' pass rush

The "Third" name derives from Lil' Wayne's Third Ward upbringing in New Orleans. Thompson saw a Youtube video of his favorite rapper representing his neighborhood, and soon Thompson and friends from his native Oakland Park, Fla., were hooked.

"I started saying it a lot around here," said Thompson, who leads Rutgers with two sacks. "Everybody was like, 'What does that mean?' I'm like, 'It means you're a tough guy.' It's like an image you portray, like you come from a tough neighborhood. You're a tough guy. I said, 'You know what? Now I can refer to it like being a tough player."

MORE: Lew Toler could impact Rutgers' decisions against Eastern Michigan

Thompson and the defensive line have kept the ritual secret from position coach Jim Panagos. The linemen police themselves, Thompson says, with grading each other's toughness.

"He wants everybody to be like him. Marcus is a crazy individual," Holmes said. "That's why we love him. He always brings a different ethic to the room. He's one of the characters you really can't replace."

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