Connect with us


Defensive line building on year two with Marquise Watson



Aaron Lewis has a chance to be even better this coming season. Photo Credit Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Marquise Watson enters his second season as defensive line coach at Rutgers. On Thursday, he met with the media following the 11th practice of spring camp.

Watson is considered a coach on the rise across college football circles and was asked about continuing his career at Rutgers.

“One, I’m from Jersey. Jersey is always going to support Jersey,” Watson said when asked why he decided to stay. “And a really good thing, the whole defensive staff, it’s rare you keep the whole defensive staff. I couldn’t be (more) excited bout the whole staff being together for another year.”

As for the defensive line, it’s a position of strength for the Scarlet Knights. With veterans Aaron Lewis, Wesley Bailey, Mayan Ahanotu, and Kyonte Hamilton, the position group has many key contributors from last season back. In addition, Kenny Fletcher and Jordan Thompson both return after showing flashes as a true freshmen. Ole Miss transfer Isiaih Iton will join the group later this offseason.

“The whole d-line, from the top to the bottom, are playing really well and really hard,” Watson said. “We have some good depth. Coach Schiano, he harps all the time on getting as many young guys, as many guys in. Which is good in recruiting, because we can say ‘look, we play 10 to 12 d-linemen.’ The thing about d-line, every position rotates people, but d-line plays the most people.”

Rutgers has been searching for enough depth along the defensive line ever since joining the Big Ten. Last season’s group made real progress, but more development is needed in order to play at a high level all season. In that regard, having players who are comfortable with Watson and defensive coordinator Joe Harasymiak’s system has been key this spring.

“You got guys you can trust,” Watson said. “Most importantly, if you look at the leadership, a lot of the leadership is d-line guys, so they make things easy. … It is year two under this defense. You look at the Aaron Lewis’, the Mayan Ahanotu’s, the Wesley Bailey’s, those guys understand me and I understand them. Sometimes, when I come out, the drills are already set up. … Having veteran guys helps us go further in our teaching. They pick it up better.”

The Rutgers defense hopes to once again take another step or two forward this fall. To do that, the defensive line needs to be more productive in every area. There is real talent for Watson to work with and his enthusiasm was obvious on Thursday.

You can watch his entire press conference below.




  1. thevinman

    April 20, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    Our D-line is likely the best and deepest unit on our team. If they can pressure the QB enough without blitzing, it will go a long way in helping us win. Even though they have depth, the offense has to be better at holding the ball longer and giving the defense more rest.

    • BataliBoli98

      April 21, 2023 at 9:28 pm

      I couldn’t agree more. Too often the defense was just so worn down by the 4th quarter since they were seemingly always on the field. I do think that the rule change to not stop the clock after first downs will help RU. Time will tell.

  2. pj43

    April 21, 2023 at 2:49 pm

    All I can say is that I’m glad Rutgers was able to retain Coach Watson. I think we may to have a legit Big Ten DL in terms of quality and depth. We all know that the OL is the next issue that Schiano faces but he knows that and has taken steps to address it with a veteran OL coach and a lot of younger players on the roster with size and potential. I’m a bit more optimistic that this team is getting closer to being a competitive program in the toughest division of the Big Ten.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *