Drew Liscari details the progress of safeties group this spring
Following the eighth practice of spring camp on Thursday, Rutgers safeties coach Drew Liscari met with the media. Liscari enters his sixth season at RU and second leading the back of the defense.
The group lost a lot of experience with Christian Izien and Avery Young having been staples for the past few seasons. Both were key contributors during the first three seasons of Greg Schiano’s second stint. Replacing them will not be an easy task. However, Rutgers has several players returning who have shown flashes previously.
“Chris and Avery certainly leave big shoes to be filled,” Liscari said. “But the way that coach Schiano runs this program, it is a developmental program. I think we do a great, great job of taking our younger guys and preparing them so that they can be ready when their moment comes and I am really excited about the direction we are going.”
Desmond Igbinosun had 55 tackles and a forced fumble in 10 games last season. Although he had a injury setback, he showed real development in just his second season as a Scarlet Knight.
“Des is continuing to develop every single day,” Lascari said. “Having that Big Ten experience as a starter helped him tremendously. He got better as the season went on, and we’re really excited. We think the sky is the limit for him and where he’s going.”
Another returning player who showed potential last season is Shaquan Loyal. A key moment was his interception and 43 yard return for a touchdown in a 16-14 win over Temple. His role should grow this coming season.
“Quan is a special player,” Lascari said. “I think he has tremendous ability and is another guy that is physical, that can run, cover and blitz. Has a lot of different skills that you can use in this league. So we are really excited about how we are going to use him.”
Thomas Amankwaa saw limited action in four games as a true freshman last season.
“He can run and he is not afraid to be physical,” Liscari explained. “He knows how to use his hands well and he has a really good sense of zone coverages as well as man coverages. (Amankwaa) works really hard in terms of his preparation and his studying. I am really, really proud of Thomas and how he is developing. And I am looking forward to seeing where he is going.”
As far as a key newcomer to the roster, Rutgers added Minnesota transfer Flip Dixon this past winter. Dixon played 30 games for the Gophers over the last three seasons and started five contests last season. The veteran player add a lot to the safeties group.
“Flip, for one, brings a lot of Big Ten experience,” Lascari said. “It’s so important to understand that he’s played a whole lot of Big Ten football and, with that, you learn a lot every single snap in this league. In terms of his physicality, it’s been something exciting for us to see. He certainly loves to play physical. He knows our scheme really, really well so it allows him to play fast. We are really excited about the direction Flip is going.”
You can watch Liscari’s full press conference below.
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