PISCATAWAY – Naturally, middle linebacker is a leadership position. As the quarterback of the defense, they’re calling out the plays and changing the defense’s stunts and fronts based on what the offense is doing pre-snap. They’re a vocal and integral part of the human chess match aspect of football.
For Rutgers, the man in the middle of the defense is a natural born leader in Steve Beauharnais.
“Steve has been a leader here for a long time and it’s not just by virtue that he’s the middle linebacker,” Kyle Flood said following Rutgers spring practice Saturday at High Point Solutions Stadium. “Steve’s a very strong personality in that locker room and on the field all the time.”
And this spring, he’s had to do that more so than ever with the front seven.
With nose tackle Scott Vallone and weakside linebacker Khaseem Greene sitting out the spring recovering from offeseason surgery, Beauharnais is surrounded by youth. While he looks forward to their return in August, he’s enjoying the time he is getting with the underclassmen.
“It feels a little weird without them there but whoever’s there is the starter and it doesn’t matter,” Beauharnais said. “I actually like playing with the young guys. I really do. I’m out there in their face, encouraging them to do the right thing.”
While he does that on a regular basis, Beauharnais doesn’t really consider that leadership. For the 6-foot-2, 232 pounder, it’s just part of manhood.
“If you want to call it leadership then yeah, but it’s just about being a man,” Beauharnais said. “It’s about that if you see something wrong, don’t be afraid to address it. Some people take that as leadership, some people don’t, but everybody’s a leader. I see young guys stepping up being a leader. There’s no one leader out here.”
No, there’s not. The secondary has seniors Brandon Jones and Duron Harmon. And the defensive line will have Vallone, while last season’s Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year Greene will also help lead the front seven.
But Beauharnais will be looked at as the backbone of that leadership. Not just because of his outspoken personality, but because of the nature of his position.
“I think even when Khaseem and Scott were healthy he still provided that [leadership] for us, but he certainly is a valuable guy for us to have out there [this spring],” Flood said.
While he has been out there he’s made it a point to expedite the process of the young guys growing up and trusting their training.
“We just got to mature more and play with confidence. I always tell everybody on defense that confidence is swag,” Beauharnais said. “Be confident in what you’re doing. Even if it’s the wrong thing, but in your mind you think it’s the right thing, do it with confidence and that’s what I preach to everybody.”