Future of Rutgers Football 2023: Cornerbacks
It is officially springtime, and spring training for the Rutgers football team is underway. In the ninth edition of Future of Rutgers Football, The Daily Targum previews the 2023 cornerbacks.
At cornerback, the Rutgers football team has a lot of depth and will return with all of its starters from last year.
The Scarlet Knights will rely on the cornerback room to provide them with production this upcoming season.
Junior defensive back Max Melton is expected to lead the cornerback room in the 2023 season. Melton has been a consistent presence in the position, starting as cornerback in 28 games over the last three years.
Last year, Melton made an impact on defense and special teams, as he led the nation with three blocked kicks on special teams. On defense, Melton made 33 tackles, 10 pass breakups and two interceptions.
He was voted honorable mention All-Big Ten by the coaches and media for his efforts. Melton will be looking to have a strong impact during his junior season as he starts looking toward the NFL draft.
Junior defensive back Robert Longerbeam is in contention to be the other starting cornerback alongside Melton. Longerbeam got more playing time as a sophomore last season, playing in 10 games and starting in 6 of them.
Longerbeam was effective in both stopping the run and pass last year. He had 36 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, two interceptions and was tied for second on the team with six pass breakups. The hard-hitting cornerback will look to become more disciplined in pass coverage, but he has the potential for a great season.
Senior defensive back Kessawn Abraham is the elder statesman in the cornerback room, as this will be his sixth season on the Banks. Abraham had a breakout season two years ago, starting 12 games at cornerback, being named defensive MVP at the team banquet and earning First Team All-Big Ten by Pro Football Focus.
Abraham hoped to build on his junior season last year in hopes of becoming an NFL draft pick, but injuries ultimately derailed his season. He only played in seven games making only one start during the 2022 season. Abraham will look to challenge Longerbeam for a starting spot and get back into NFL draft conversations.
Two transfers will join the Rutgers' cornerback room for the 2023 season. Junior defensive back Eric Rogers transferred to the Knights from Northern Illinois, and senior defensive back Charles Amankwaa transferred to Rutgers from Akron. Rogers had an impressive season for the Huskies last year and can provide good depth as a strong coverage corner. Amankwaa also brings experience to the cornerback room, as he has five seasons of college football under his belt.
A young player to keep an eye on in the spring game is freshman defensive back Bo Mascoe. Mascoe is an incoming freshman and was a highly-rated prospect out of Kissimmee, Florida, where he played wide receiver and cornerback in high school.
He will most likely not play a lot of snaps at cornerback as a freshman, but he has a chance to make an impression on the coaching staff at spring practice and at the spring game. Mascoe's speed is also an advantage, as he did track in high school as well as football.
The cornerbacks unit might be one of the Knights' strongest and deepest units this upcoming year. The group’s continued success might help Rutgers improve on its 1-8 Big Ten record last year.
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