Future of Rutgers Football 2023: Safeties
It is officially springtime, and spring training for the Rutgers football team is underway. In the eighth edition of Future of Rutgers Football, The Daily Targum previews the 2023 safeties.
The Rutgers football team's safeties unit will be one to watch during spring practice and the spring football game.
The Scarlet Knights' safeties unit has been one of their stronger units on both sides of the ball over the past couple of seasons. The safeties room will need to replace the production of Christian Izien and Avery Young, both of whom declared for the NFL draft. Despite these losses, though, the safeties unit is a veteran group looking to make an impact.
Junior defensive back Desmond Igbinosun will most likely be the next man up to lead the safeties. Igbinosun has seen playing time since his freshman year, and last year, he played in 10 games and got nine starts at the safety position.
In those 10 games, he totaled 55 tackles, four pass breakups and a forced fumble. The hard-hitting versatile safety can get to the running back or drop back in coverage. With the losses of Izien and Young, Igbinosun will be the veteran leader for the safeties.
Junior defensive back Flip Dixon will also be in contention to start at the safety position after transferring to Rutgers from Minnesota for this upcoming season. Dixon played in 12 games and made five starts for the Golden Gophers last season. He is a good safety in coverage and has experience with defensive coordinator Joe Harasymiak, who coached him back in Minnesota for two years.
Junior defensive back Shaquan Loyal is also in contention to start at safety for the Knights. Loyal took a step up last season, playing in 11 games and making two starts at safety. The player also recorded 27 tackles, made two pass breakups and got a pick-six last year. He got his first start against Iowa and made a season-high six tackles in the contest.
A young player to watch out for is sophomore defensive back Thomas Amankwaa.
Thomas Amankwaa is the younger brother of senior defensive back Charles Amankwaa. The former is a versatile player that played both defensive back and wide receiver in high school. Thomas Amankwaa was a highly-rated prospect in the 2022 class and can make an impact in the safety unit with his ball-hawking abilities and tackling abilities. His presence adds much-needed depth and energy to the safeties unit.
Expect junior defensive back Elijuwan Mack to get some snaps at safety as well, though most likely in a backup role.
The safeties room features a mixture of new and old faces looking to make an impact. Though the unit may take a slight step back without Izien and Young, under the leadership of Igbinosun, expect the unit to try and replicate the production and impact of the 2022 safety room.
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