As a longtime Chicago Bears fan, I know how painful it is to watch guys go down during a rough season. With losses piling up and favorites going down, it gets harder and harder to watch your team. Last year, Janarion Grant’s big 2016 was cut short during the Iowa game due to an ankle injury, taking a huge spark out of Rutgers football. This year, the Scarlet Knights will be without that same spark, this time on the defensive side of the ball in cornerback Blessuaun Austin.
Seeing Austin go down breaks the heart of not just Rutgers fans, but anyone who can appreciate solid cornerback play in the Big Ten. The junior from New York was the only Scarlet Knight to receive a Big Ten Honorable mention in 2016, and was ranked No. 12 nationally in passes defended per game. His 14 pass break ups last year were the most by a Rutgers defender since 2012. Possibly the worst part of this injury, is the cornerback was on track to have another strong year.
Even though I think Janarion Grant will be on an NFL roster this time next year, I’m not sure that that the swiss army knife type players like him fit perfectly into every coach’s toolbox. Big return guys like Oakland’s Cordarrelle Patterson often struggle to remain on a team if they can’t show they are able to provide some role to the offense.
With that being said, I don’t think it is the same case for Austin. If you watch the games, I think its clear to see that Blessuaun Austin is the most NFL-ready player on the Rutgers roster. His ability to be a true defender that operates on football IQ rather than sheer athleticism separates him from a majority of defensive backs in my mind. Coach Chris Ash has not confirmed if Austin is eligible for a medical redshirt, which the junior could use to save some of his Rutgers time. No matter, I and the rest of Armchair wish Blessuaun Austin a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing his talent on the field again.
On Saturday, the Scarlet Knights will face powerhouse Ohio State at home, with sophomore Damon Hayes opposite Isaiah Wharton at Cornerback. We’ll see if Hayes can hold his own, as I’m sure the Buckeyes are already drawing up plans to expose the young defender.
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