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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Off of "best spring", Rutgers' Kenneth Kirksey sees numbers game along defensive line

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

After missing a total of 10 games last year — nine with a triceps injury — Kenneth Kirksey says he's having the best spring of his Rutgers career.

"I'm just making more plays than I did before," Kirksey said last Thursday. "I know my assignments — I've been here four years with the program. I can just move fast and freely now."

The nose tackle is part of a deep defensive line rotation this spring that could feature as many as 10 players, including hybrid redshirt freshman Kemoko Turay.

His defensive line coach, Jim Panagos, prefers to shrink that number.

"Coach Panagos wants eight players to play during the game, eight starters — that's what we call them," Kirksey said. "That way we can always stay fresh, our legs stay fresh, keep our minds healthy and fresh. We get to play faster with eight people to back them up."

Panagos, who frequently substitutes during the season, splits the group in two during practices, Kirksey said. He will sub players regardless of the depth chart in the fall.

That means Kirksey could play with as many as seven other linemen.

"They're big," he said. "I don't see them as second string, because during the season they're ones. (When) they get in the game, they have to play like us."

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