The 'Countdown to Camp' series focuses in on another of our annual top 10 categories with a look at the returning Scarlet Knights who are primed for a breakout performance in 2014.
10.)SR QB Gary Nova It may seem unusual to put a senior with 28 starts on this list, but Nova has yet to put together a really consistent season in which he was solid from start to finish. With new offensive Ralph Friedgen in place, this could be the year that happens for Nova. If that does indeed ring true, it would definitely be a breakout campaign for Nova, which would help out immensely in the win column.
9.)SO DE Quanzell Lambert As long as offseason shoulder repair does not hold him back, Lambert looks like he could be the opening day starter at the 'R' position. He's finally settled in at defensive end and the 2013 season ended on a high note for Lambert. If he can continue that progression, Lambert could find himself finally turning the 'R' into a really productive position for the RU defense.
8.)SO OL J.J. Denman Last season, he watched fellow lineman Chris Muller have a breakout season and this year it looks like it will be Denman's turn. He has pushed himself up to the No.6 offensive lineman and would probably be the first off the bench in the event of injury. Denman will likely get that chance at some point this season and could finally deliver on all his recruiting hype he carried to Piscataway.
7.)SO RB Desmon Peoples Coming off a torrid spring, Peoples is in line for the No.2 running back spot behind starter Paul James. He will have some stiff competition but expect the redshirt sophomore to have a role this season. The 180-pound Peoples can do a variety of things out of the backfield but will have to fend off extremely talented true freshman Josh Hicks and sophomore Justin Goodwin.
6.)SO WR Janarion Grant He made an impact last season as a kick returner but was never really given much of a chance at wide receiver. That changed this spring as Grant excelled on the offensive side of the football. How much of a breakout season he has this year could be contingent on how often the quarterback looks his way. Look for Grant to be at least a steady part of the RU offense.
5.)R-FR DE Kemoko Turay The scarlet nation will soon be introduced to one of the RU staff's top finds. After really excelling as a redshirt, Turay will finally get a chance to show off his blossoming skills this season. His overall ceiling is very high and while he may not reach All-Big Ten status this year, Turay is expected to show glimpses of the dominant player he could eventually become.
4.)R-FR DT Sebastian Joseph A close up look at Joseph will immediately set a high level of expectations. He is a massive defensive tackle who already looks the part of an All-Big Ten defensive tackle. This season, he figures to play a bigger role in the defense now that he is learning the nose guard position. A starting spot is likely to be Joseph's before the season is finished.
3.).SO DB Delon Stephenson It has been back and forth from cornerback to safety for the sophomore thus far. He has a complete skillset and could be successful at either position, but as of now he could provide an answer at free safety position which is where he is more comfortable playing. In a secondary that is full of questions, look for Stephenson to be one of the answers.
2.)SO DE Julian Pinnix-Odrick The wait is finally over for JPO, who missed last season due to an ACL injury. Now, he is back to health and ready to wreak havoc from the 'E' position. Pinnix-Odrick has excellent size, checking in right around the 260-pound mark and is a high-energy player with a relentless motor. The plays he may not make on technique, he cam make on effort.
1. JR LB Quentin Gause The fourth year junior started one game last year and had a major impact in that win over Arkansas. As a full-time starter this season at the strongside linebacker position, expect big things out of Gause. His progress has been constant each year at Rutgers and as long as he gets past a spring shoulder injury, the sky is the limit for Gause.