The latest installment of “Know the Knights” looks a key member of the defensive line and a walk-on quarterback who will play a significant role in the spring.
Here is a look at Justin Francis and Jason Friday:
2011 Eligibility:Red-shirt Senior
Ht.: 6-4 Wt: 322
Position: Defensive line
High school: Miramar High (Opa-Locka, Fla.)
Background: Valuable reserve who played at defensive tackle and defensive end for the Scarlet Knights in 2010. …Made 21 tackles, including two sacks, and also had an interception. …Made 14 tackles in 2009, including 3 ½ sacks, in 2009. …Red-shirted in 2008 after playing in seven games as a true freshman.
Projected 2011 Role: Francis was a consistent performer in 2010 and showed his versatility by playing defensive end and defensive tackle.
He will get a shot to play defensive end in 2011, and must show a quick first step and the ability to get around the edge and pressure the quarterback.
Given Rutgers’ depth at defensive tackle with Scott Vallone, Kenneth Kirksey, Michael Larrow and Anthony LaLota, Francis’ true value could come as a defensive end. And given the Scarlet Knights lost both of their defensive ends from last season, lining up opposite the left tackle is the likely position.
2011 Eligibility:Red-shirt freshman
Ht.: 6-4 Wt: 200
High school: Jeb Stuart High Falls Church, Va.
Background: Red-shirted and worked on the scout team in 2010. ...Passed for 1,600 yards and ran for more than 600 yards as a senior at Jeb Stuart High. …Played linebacker and defensive end as a sophomore before making the move to quarterback. …Did not play as a junior because of injury.
Projected 2011 Role: With the lack of depth at quarterback, Friday will have a chance to make his mark in spring practice. But the growth the walk-one must show is great considering Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said walk-on Tyler Bellia will be Chas Dodd’s backup in spring practice.
However, don’t minimize Friday’s role since the Scarlet Knights need quarterbacks, especially in the spring, since Dodd and Bellia are the only two healthy quarterbacks on the roster. (Steve Shimko’s availability remains in question because of shoulder surgery).
Once the 2011 season arrives, freshman Gary Nova and Mike Bimonte will also be in camp, meaning Friday will have a long way to go to factor into the equation.