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Monday, July 21, 2014

Proving it in Piscataway (No. 13 — Daryl Stephenson)

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

Less than two weeks remain until the start of Rutgers training camp. This top-25 countdown will run infrequently, documenting who's got the most to prove in 2014.

No. 13 — DT Daryl Stephenson (6-foot-3, 280 pounds)

Why Stephenson's on the list: History shows that at least one interior lineman each year will suffer an injury that forces an extended absence.

Stephenson may very well start, but his status as a reliable rotation player — one who can play both nose and three technique — is crucial. Three of Rutgers' eight possible linemen in its rotation have never played before.

Stephenson played all 13 games a year ago, rebounding from a preseason foot injury that cost him all of 2013.

During training camp, keep an eye on: Stephenson's playing weight.

Rutgers strength staff has made a concerted effort to bulk up its linemen, but Stephenson had already appeared well suited for the Big Ten. Maintaining that weight is a different task.

2014 outlook: Don't let rotation talk fool you — Stephenson will play enough snaps to deem him a starter, something defensive line coach Jim Panagos preaches.

He could have a breakthrough year after finishing last year with one sack.

More from the countdown: No. 12 — Carlton Agudosi
No. 14 — Anthony Cioffi

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