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