Rutgers Football again shakes things up at kicker, offensive line
Rutgers saw five players make their Rutgers debut in Saturday's loss to Illinois in kicker Valentino Ambrosio, defensive lineman Ireland Burke, wide receiver Robert Longerbeam, tight end Tahjay Moore, and wide receiver Ahmirr Robinson.
Lawrence Stevens also made his first career start at safety and Bryan Felter got his first career start at guard.
Longerbeam, Moore, Robinson, and Felter are all true freshmen.
Ambrosio was a surprise as he handled kicking duties making two field goals from 29 and 26 yards out and two extra points. Guy Fava had been the kicker the prior three games going 2-for-2 on field goals and 6-for-6 on PAT.
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Ambrosio joined the Scarlet Knights this fall after he appeared in 18 games with 12 starts for the Rutgers men's soccer team in 2019. He played soccer for Fairleigh Dickinson in 2018.
Justin Davidovicz still did the kickoffs.
"I just felt like he was kicking better, and it's been leading up that way," head coach Greg Schiano said of Ambrosio, a junior. "Again, those competitions are open competitions and you see what you see on Saturdays, but I see him every day at practice and we evaluate them. It's the same with every position."
According to Schiano, nobody's job is safe, even for the kickers.
"I think every position is open and we've moved some linebackers and we move some offensive linemen. This is very early stages of a program and every single day, it's going to be earned. We'll make changes," Schiano said. "I've often said to the guys, I don't make the changes. I just facilitate it on the depth chart. Your performance is what moves you up and down relative to the people that are at your position. Valentino had shown that he had really improved, so we felt it was the best thing for the team and he gave us the best chance to win with him kicking."
Felter, a 6-foot-3, 299-pounder, made his college debut two weeks ago against Indiana on the field goal protection unit and saw eight snaps on offense at right guard last week against Ohio State.
Against Illinois, Felter helped running back Isaih Pacheco run for 134 yards on attempts.
"Felter started at guard, and we just felt like again, no different than the kicker, when we evaluated the combination of practice, and what's happened in games, we felt like he gave us the best chance to win," Schiano said. "It's hard to tell with a linemen to see it all there. I'm anxious to watch the tape and evaluate how we played up front. But usually when you run for the yards that we did somebody blocked somebody, so I'm looking forward to looking at the tape.
Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisWasky.