Like much of Rutgers football's 2021 roster, the offensive line features many of the starters from the 2020 season where the Scarlet Knights averaged 26.7 points per game against the Big Ten, a program high. Here are The Daily Targum's predictions for this year's starting offensive linemen.
Left Tackle: Raiqwon O’Neil
O’Neil will be looking to build on a season where he started eight games at left tackle. He will be responsible for protecting the blindside of senior quarterback Noah Vedral, who was sacked 21 times last season.
“It starts with us up front,” O’Neil said to the Asbury Park Press. “Without us, we can’t get rolling.”
O’Neil also featured in ways that went past being an offensive lineman in 2020. He scored a four-yard touchdown against Ohio State, and famously kept the ball alive during a wild lateral sequence against Indiana, throwing the ball behind his head.
The junior hopes to match his success from last season where he was voted as an All-Big Ten honorable mention by the media.
Left Guard: Cedrice Paillant
After spending two years at Monroe College, Pallant transferred to Piscataway and made noise immediately. The junior appeared in all nine games last season, starting seven at the left guard position. He helped Rutgers rush for a season high 235 yards in the victory over Maryland and will attempt to protect the offense even more in 2021.
Center: Nick Krimin
In 2020, Krimin started all nine games at the center position. This was his first college experience playing center after starting every game for the Knights at right guard in 2019. The fifth-year senior helped Rutgers score all four times they were in the red zone against Michigan State in the season opening victory. His familiarity with the other starting offensive linemen will help to build chemistry and improve the play of the Knights up front.
Right Guard: Reggie Sutton
Described as the “most valuable lineman” at Rutgers by NJ Advance Media, Sutton has had an interesting road to becoming a starting guard. He came on the Banks as a blocking tight end, started at tackle to begin the 2019 season and moved to guard by the end of the year, where he is projected to start this season. Sutton was named an honorable mention All-Big Ten by the coaches and said he hopes to bring his versatility to the new season.
“I’m trying to give us the best chance to win, so wherever I line up, hopefully I can do my best,” he said. “I feel comfortable everywhere.”
Right Tackle: David Nwaogwugwu
Nwaogwugwu will be making his debut for the Knights in 2021. The junior spent his first 3 seasons at Temple, making two starts in 2020 before entering the transfer portal in the offseason. After putting on 65 pounds after not playing his first season, fans can expect him to bring this strong work ethic to SHI Stadium this fall.
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