Rutgers emphasizes special teams in a big way, and welcomed back coach Bob Fraser to run things this season. The biggest wins in modern Rutgers history involve impact special team moments. For Rutgers to immediately compete in the Big Ten, that tradition must continue.
Kicker Kyle Federico is on a hot streak after a season and a half of inconsistencies and injury issues. Federico was a bright spot in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl loss to Notre Dame, and bounced back in the second half of his sophomore year. Look for Federico to hold down the job in training camp, but the consistency needs to carry over. Rutgers saw multiple costly misses from Federico including a should-be game winner against Fresno State in the 2013 opener.
Joe Roth earned the right to replace Nick Marsh at punter with a solid spring. Roth made multiple post-graduate stops before walking on at Rutgers. He is set to punt this season, and is the favorite to win the kickoff job as well.
The true special teams headline, however, comes with receiver Janarion Grant. Grant was the common denominator of greatness in kick returns for Rutgers, including a American Athletic Conference record touchdown in his first career touch. Look for opponents to kick away from him when possible or suffer the consequences.
Nick Borgese pushed Federico for the starting job many times over the last two years. The two remained in head-to-head competition throughout bowl season and spring camp. Federico remains in the lead, but has Borgese on his heels should there be struggles. Walk ons David Bonagura, Aiden Murray, Nick DeLouisa and Kevin Dailey will all get fair looks from the staff when it comes to the pecking order on place kicking and punts.
Long snappers are not recruited on scholarship without immediate expectations. Freshman Alan Lucy projects to start immediately, and needs to hold down the position over the next four years. Lucy was a top five long snapper in the country according to Rubio Long Snapping. He committed shortly after leaving a Rutgers official visit.
Rutgers has many athletic first- and second-year players that can be impact guys on special teams. When it comes to gunners, return guys and block specialists, file away names like Dre Boggs, Delon Stephenson, Myles Nash, T.J. Taylor and Josh Hicks.
When it comes to special teams, Rutgers practices like it plays. Head coach Kyle Flood devotes a significant portion of each practice to the field position game, and the result is more blocked kicks than any other team in the country over the last five years. The Scarlet Knights want to shock the world in their new conference home. That starts by winning the field position battles and a few quick strikes from Grant.