PISCATAWAY, N.J. – David Rowe started 11 games at cornerback last season and is the incumbent as Brandon Bing and Logan Ryan compete for the other starting spot.
Well, that’s how it plays out on paper, but not in Rowe’s head.
Despite his experience and track record for playing well, the 6-foot, 196-pound Rowe didn’t show up to training camp with the idea he was a starter.
“I always feel like I’m in a battle because that’s the way it is in college football,” Rowe said. “You can’t relax.”
Rowe intercepted two passes and made 36 tackles. He moved into the starting lineup for the third game last season, and remained there and was a consistent complement to Rutgers’ other cornerback, Devin McCourty.
But while Rowe proved his worth as a Big East cornerback as a sophomore, the experience taught him the areas of improvement he needed to focus on in the offseason.
“I worked on my footwork, and one thing I wanted to do is get more physical,” Rowe said. “I don’t know if I have yet because we weren’t in pads yet, but hopefully I have.”
Rowe’s attempt to address the physical portion of his play meant plenty of time in the weight room to build strength. He increased his bench press (which is now more than 300 pounds) as well as his squat while trying to fine-tune his on-field approach.
“You’ve got to work hard in the weight room, and it’s a mentality you have to have when you get on the field,” Rowe said. “I think you have to be more willing to let it go. As a junior and senior, you have to get out of the mold of ‘I hope I don’t make a mistake.’ Now I feel like I know what I’m doing and I can be comfortable and go after it.
“The bench press really helps in getting a quick jam on and being able to lock those arms out because we have big receivers. When you look at it, it’s basically 220 pounds you have to get off you. It helps you with taking on blocks, and getting of jams at the line.”
Running back Joe Martinek went through drills early in Saturday’s practice but was held out of team drills after his injured leg became fatigued. Coach Greg Schiano said Martinek nearly hyper-extended his knee in Friday’s practice, but the strength of his hamstring prevented it from happening.
Also, freshman cornerback Gareef Glashen did not finish practice after injuring his hamstring. Schiano said Glashen had two solid practices before the injury. It is uncertain how long Glashen will be out.
Paul VI (Haddonfield, N.J.) cornerback Chris Hutton attended practice. He does not hold a Rutgers offer.