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Corey Hetherman details “versatility” of linebackers



Tyreem Powell returns after a strong 2022 season. Photo credit Rutgers Athletics

Linebackers coach Corey Hetherman met with the media following the 14th and last true practice of spring camp on Thursday. It’s his second year at Rutgers and was key in getting the most out of Deion Jennings and Tyreem Powell last season. There is a legitimate chance for the position group to be deeper and even better this fall.

“Our guys have done a great job and we definitely feel like we have that depth and versatility this year. We have guys we can put in different situations,” Hetherman said. “Our guys have attacked getting cross-trained and building depth at multiple positions.”

Jennings was a breakout player for Rutgers last season after playing a limited reserve role most of his career. He led RU with 91 tackles and 8.5 tackles-for-loss. Jennings won the Homer Hazel award as fhe team’s MVP last season.

“Deion does everything from attacking practice, to the way he chops through everything, he trusts his teammates, and does everything he can to get better,” Hetherman stated. “You saw his confidence go up at training camp and even more during the weeks in the season. He’s stepped up that leadership role more and has been more vocal. He’s taken off.”

Powell embraced the opportunity last season and became a central force for the Rutgers defense. He produced 71 tackles with six for loss along with three sacks.

“Our strength coaches did a really good job in the weight room for Tyreem,” Hetherman said. “They got him bigger and able to bend better. His confidence level, leadership, and communication are up. Year No. 2 in the defense has helped him too with his confidence and trust. He’s elevated and his eyes and pad level eyes are faster. Every rep our guys get is crucial. It’s so valuable. All those Big Ten reps, and situations, he has that film now. He’s going to be a much different player. We’re going to build on it and help him play faster.”

Hetherman emphasized how important the experience gained has been for the continued development of both Jennings and Powell.

“I think that was huge,” Hetherman said. “They hadn’t played much and they stepped up. Early on they weren’t prepared and didn’t handle situations well, but they learned. They improved during the season and worked at it. They communicated a lot better and helped the defense.”

Two players back in the mix at linebacker for Hetherman is Mo Toure and Moses Walker.

It was Toure who led Rutgers in sacks in both the 2020 and 2021 seasons before missing 2022 with a torn ACL injury. His ability to play in multiple spots within the defense is key to the versatility of the position group.

“Having a guy with that much experience is huge,” he said. “He’s come back and we’re playing him at different positions. He’s getting cross-trained to have that versatility and offenses aren’t going to know where he’s lined up. That’s huge for us. Coach (Joe) Harasymiak does an awesome job putting our guys in the best roles. He works with the younger guys.”

Former 4-star recruit Moses Walker is back this spring after also suffering a season ending injury and missing all of the 2022 campaign.

“Moses is full-go,” Hetherman said. “We’re really excited to have him back. During the fall he did a good job in the weight room working on himself and studying the plays so when he got back in, he knew his job and his assignments. He came back well prepared and has had a good spring. There are certain reps where he hasn’t seen a look or it was the first time he’s done something, but he bounces back the second time and is on top of it. Every day we’re on his technique and fundamentals and he’s getting better and better. Really excited about him.”

You can watch Hetherman’s full press conference here.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Henry Rutgers

    April 28, 2023 at 7:53 am

    This is one of our most exciting position groups. I enjoy watching them develop. Jennings has speed and is a hard, solid tackler. Powell, however, is, with all respect, a beast. I think this year he’s going to own the inside and make some exciting highlight plays in addition to demonstrating improved consistency.

    I’m excited about tomorrows “third scrimmage” marking the end of the spring practices. As Aaron has said, I don’t expect perfect running, passing, blocking etc. Organization and improvement would be a step in the right direction.

    I’ll have to call marketing this afternoon to see if the beer concession will be open in the stadium so I’m in the right frame of mind to ignore the boo birds when we have the occasional dropped pass, broken play, poorly thrown ball etc. Progress. That is all we need to see tomorrow and a little bit of fun. Maybe we’ll see President Holloway catch another punt on the return team. I just hope the union he’s negotiating with isn’t on the opposing team. We don’t need a roughing the President penalty.

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