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Monday, March 31, 2014

Kaleb Johnson downplays decision to return to Rutgers, delay NFL

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

At his home in Jacksonville, Fla., Kaleb Johnson made the decision he says he always planned to but left in doubt publicly: return to Rutgers in 2014 for his senior season.

"To be honest, I really wasn’t thinking about coming out," Johnson said Saturday. "That was something I let you guys (the media) do.”

Johnson participated in the usual rites of passage: send game tape to NFL evaluators, seek advice from family and high school coaches and weigh each side.

A fourth- to seventh-round draft grade returned. Johnson called it "temporary money." Returning Rutgers' starting offensive line swayed him.

"To come back and have all five of us together," he said, "there’s nothing better than that.”

Johnson and his team-high 37 career starts offer stability to an offensive line that needs it. Rutgers allowed 35 sacks a year ago, 24 more than the previous season.

Several came from the interior, where Johnson started for the first time in his career.

"The more reps you get at the same position I think the better you’re going to be," head coach Kyle Flood said. "I think just by virtue of that it’s going to be helpful to him.”

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