When the Rutgers football team takes the field against Norfolk State, seven of the 21 starters will be sophomores.
Seven more are backups that will contribute off the bench from game one.
Sophomores seem to have taken the team by storm and have had to become leaders of the offense and defense.
It starts with sophomore quarterback Tom Savage.
Savage started out as the backup last season but took over the starting job halfway through Rutgers' season opener against Cincinnati.
Savage went on to throw for 2,211 yards and 14 touchdowns and was named a Freshman All-American.
He possessed a limited knowledge of Rutgers' playbook and was still learning the intricacies of opposing defenses.
This season, Savage is more seasoned and happens to be the most experienced quarterback in the Big East.
With a year under his belt, Savage is now the unquestioned leader of the offense and spent countless hours learning the entire playbook as well as studying defenses and offensive protections.
"Whatever they need me to do, I'm ready to do," Savage said. "I'm confident in what I need to do. There's really no comparison to where I was last year at this time."
Rutgers' starting wide receivers Mohamed Sanu and Mark Harrison are both true sophomores.
Sanu started every game last season and quickly became one of the stars of the team.
At 6'3" and bulked up to 218 pounds, Sanu is everything that a coach could want in a player. He has great size, speed, hands, and a great arm.
Last season, in addition to playing wide receiver, Sanu took snaps out of the Wildcat formation. He became the first Rutgers player to catch, run, and pass for a touchdown in one season.
"I think his best position is wherever he decides to play," said Rutgers coach Greg Schiano.
He even returned punts.
Did I mention that he's also a great blocker?
Mark Harrison, who spent almost all of last season out with a concussion, made the most of the one game that he played. He recorded five receptions for 83 yards and one touchdown.
With Tim Wright out for the season with a torn ACL, Harrison became the starter in place of him. Since he committed to Rutgers, Harrison has been compared to Kenny Britt but with more explosive speed.
At tight end, sophomore D.C. Jefferson has bulked up to 258 pounds. He's now 6'6" and is the ideal size for a tight end.
Once a top-15 quarterback recruit, Jefferson was moved from quarterback to tight end a week and a half before last season and started every game. Already a great athlete, D.C.'s improved on both his blocking and receiving skills.
"Tight end has become second nature to me," Jefferson said when asked about year two of his position switch.
While Joe Lefeged is the most talented and experienced of all the players on Rutgers' defense, sophomore middle linebacker Steve Beauharnais is the unofficial leader of the defense. Schiano's defense requires a middle linebacker that can play sideline to sideline and also make defensive calls at the line of scrimmage.
Beauharnais has done very well in that role so far in camp and spent most of the offseason focusing on the mental aspect of the middle linebacker position.
"He's come ready to work," Schiano said. "He's done a nice job. He's got a great football IQ and is a great player to coach"
At defensive tackle, sophomore Scott Vallone will start for the second straight year. Last season Vallone was a Freshman All-American and had 40 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
That was without playing on third downs.
This season he looks to build on those numbers while playing as a four-down lineman.
Sophomore Khaseem Greene will take over at the free safety position after the graduation of Zaire Kitchen.
Greene, named Rutgers' most improved defensive player of spring practice, had two interceptions last year while playing as a backup.
His ball-hawking skills have had him compared to former Rutgers free safety and now Jacksonville Jaguar Courtney Greene (no family relation).
Sophomore nose tackle Eric Legrand will be the backup at nose tackle and will get lots of playing time.
The offensive line has two sophomore backups with David Osei at center and Devon Watkis at left tackle.
Kalial Glaud is a sophomore who will back up Manny Abreu at strong side linebacker.
The secondary has sophomores Duron Harmon as the backup safety and Marcus Cooper and Brandon Jones as backups at cornerback.
Many people associate the large amount of youth on the Rutgers football team as a bad thing.
Could this group of sophomores be 2010's version of the 1968 Ohio State "Super Sophs?"
These guys are ready to lead, and the Scarlet Knights wouldn't have it any other way.
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