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Athlon names five Rutgers players to its Preseason All-Big Ten teams



Nov 19, 2022; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (14) throws an incomplete pass after being hurried by Rutgers Scarlet Knights defensive lineman Aaron Lewis (71) during the first half at SHI Stadium. Photo credit Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Athlon Sports released its Preseason All-Big Ten teams this week and Rutgers football had five players included.

Defensive lineman Aaron Lewis, the best transfer of Schiano 2.0, highlighted the selections in being named on Athlon’s Second Team All-Big Ten. He was named a Third Team selection last season by the Big Ten coaches following his emergence as Rutgers’ best defensive player. Lewis had 55 tackles including eight for loss last fall. He regularly drew double teams and was a leader for RU. Lewis appears poised to make an even bigger jump this coming season.

Linebacker Deion Jennings and defensive back Max Melton were included on the Athlon preseason Third Team. Jennings led the Rutgers defense last season with 91 tackles and had four games with double digit totals. He also had 8.5 tackles for loss and 6 pass breakups. Jennings was given the Homer Hazel Award as Rutgers’ MVP last season. Melton was named an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten last season when he had 33 tackles, 10 pass breakups and 2 interceptions. The corner was 7th in the Big Ten with 1.0 pass defended per game. He was also a standout on special teams in leading the nation with three blocked punts and recovering a fumble.

Defensive lineman Wesley Bailey and offensive lineman Hollin Pierce were named to the Athlon Fourth Team. Bailey had a breakthrough season in leading the Big Ten with three fumble recoveries and led Rutgers with 3.5 sacks. He also had 30 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 2 pass breakups. Pierce started every game for Rutgers at tackle for a second consecutive season. The former walk-on is expected to be a major part of the offense once again this fall.

Preseason predictions by Athlon will be released at a later date.

Rutgers opens the 2023 season at home against Northwestern on Saturday, September 2 at SHI Stadium.

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