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Rutgers football position preview: Offensive line

Senior right guard Nick Krimin was on the field for 756 snaps last year. – Photo by Ben Solomon/ Rutgers Athletics

The offensive line is a notable group on the gridiron.

This past season, the Rutgers football team’s offensive line gave up 26 sacks, or 2.17 per game, up from 1.33 the year prior. The offensive line shined bright in both wins. It helped to secure 554 yards of offense and gave up a single sack in the season opener against UMass, and in the midseason matchup with Liberty, the Scarlet Knights logged 463 yards, including 271 on the ground, while giving up one sack. 

Rutgers returns just one full season starter from last year in senior right guard Nick Krimin. He was on the field for 756 snaps, good for second on the Knights. 

Krimin was joined on the right side by former right tackle Kamaal Seymour for all 12 games. Seymour graduated last year after being awarded the David Bender Trophy, given to Rutgers’ best offensive lineman. 

On the other side, sophomore left tackle Raiqwon O’Neal started the first four games and saw action in five more for the Knights. O’Neal boasts several more years of eligibility.

Senior left tackle Mike Lonsdorf started the final eight games. Lonsdorf saw time in six games in the 2018 season as well as four in 2017. Another graduate, former left guard Zach Venesky, started every game and received the Paul Robeson Award for performance, leadership and dedication on and off the field. 

A notable subtraction from the line is Michael Maietti, who transferred to Missouri. 

Rutgers has others at the position group vying for opportunities to play. Sophomore offensive linemen Reggie Sutton and Matt Rosso took part in numerous contests last year. Sutton played in six games, including the midseason victory against the Flames, and Rosso spent most of his time with the field goal protection squad.

Entering the season, sophomore offensive lineman Anton Oskarsson doesn’t have collegiate experience, but was the highest-rated prospect coming out of Sweden in 2019. He is joined on the Banks by a fellow countryman, senior left guard Sam Vretman, who played in four games last year and five the year before. 

The established group for the Knights is joined by several signees. Head football coach Greg Schiano’s first offer in his return to Rutgers went to true freshman offensive lineman Tunde Fatukasi, brother of senior linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi. 

In Tunde Fatukasi’s highlight video from his last year of high school, he is seen finishing blocks by pushing opponents down-field, away from the ball carrier. 

Two commitments will be a reunion. True freshman offensive lineman Bryan Felter will be back in the same locker room with his quarterback and coach from high school. At Bergen Catholic, Felter spent two years blocking for sophomore quarterback Johnny Langan and being coached by tight ends coach Nunzio Campanile.

Joining them will be sophomore transfer offensive lineman Marquis Morris. Before William and Mary, Morris played football and participated in track and field for the Crusaders. 

True freshman offensive lineman Isaiah Wright played defensive tackle until his senior year, when he slid into the left tackle. From his new position, Wright helped Saint Peter’s Prep average 33 points per game on its way to the NJSIAA Non-Public, Group 4 Championship.

Joining the protection unit is true freshman offensive lineman Cedrice Paillant, who spent the last two years in junior college bringing any of his challengers to the ground. 

Much of offensive line coach Andrew Aurich’s career has been with Schiano and offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Sean Gleeson. Aurich took over Gleeson’s offensive coordinator position at Princeton last season after spending three seasons coaching the offensive line. In 2018, Aurich’s alma mater averaged 295.5 rushing yards per game, best in the Ivy League. 

Aurich spent the 2012 season with Schiano as a part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff. They had previously worked together in 2009 and 2010 with the Knights. Both Aurich and Gleeson come from high powered offenses with noteworthy offensive lines. 

For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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