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Rutgers shifting Kaleb Johnson from tackle to guard


Rutgers' Kaleb Johnson was a freshman All-American in 2011 and a second-team All-Big East performer last season playing offensive tackle.

This season, he will be at guard, and in addition to potentially solidifying the Scarlet Knights' offensive line, it likely will improve his draft stock.

Johnson (6-feet-4, 305) played in a Wing-T offense in high school at Jacksonville Ed White and has been a proficient run blocker since stepping on Rutgers' campus in the summer of 2011. He started at right tackle as a true freshman, then moved to the left side last season.

"I definitely think starting at three different positions is something that's going to help me get to the next level," Johnson told the Newark Star-Ledger. "I've heard they only travel with seven or eight offensive linemen in the NFL. So having that under my belt, playing three positions, is going to help."

Johnson is a mauler in the running game. While he has good quickness, he can struggle in space and thus seems a better fit inside.

"He's really built his body to where his body type is built to play inside," coach Kyle Flood told the Star-Ledger about Johnson. "Now, he was the best left tackle we had, so that's where he played for us last year and we had to do that."

Sophomore Keith Lumpkin (6-8, 315) had a solid spring at left tackle, and his play convinced coaches the offensive line would be better off with Johnson inside. Lumpkin, surprisingly nimble for a guy his size, played in just three games last season, and his performance was one of the biggest surprises of spring practice.

Johnson's running mate at guard right now is redshirt freshman Chris Muller (6-6, 300), another player who had a good spring. Senior OG Antwan Lowery, who started all 13 games last season and was a first-team All-Big East selection, was hurt during practice Saturday and is expected to miss at least a week. Thing is, Muller outplayed Lowery during spring practice and was listed atop the depth chart when fall camp began anyway.

Follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin

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