CHICAGO Rutgers defensive tackle Darius Hamilton didn't seem fazed in the least when he was informed that the vast majority of offensive linemen in his team's new conference the Big Ten are built along the lines of corn-fed Midwestern cattle.

At 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, the junior from West Paterson, N.J., who led the Scarlet Knights last season with 11 1/2 tackles for loss, has been accustomed to facing bigger opponents.

"I can honestly say that I've never been the biggest guy," Hamilton said Monday during Rutgers' debut at Big Ten football media days. "I've never lined up across a guy and said, 'Oh, this is going to be a cakewalk today.'

"I think that's what makes me the player I am, is the hard work I put in. I really try to hang my hat on technique because when you're not the biggest guy, you'd better have something else. You've got to be more technically sound than the other guy to do the things that you want to do."

There's a lot for the Scarlet Knights to learn about Big Ten teams, but coach Kyle Flood said he and his staff have gotten off to a good start in their research and film study. He said the team, in its offseason workouts, has prepared for the physical nature of the new conference.

"We've played physical offenses before, we've played bigger teams before," he said. "We've never built our team to be the biggest team. It's not philosophically how we go about things. But when we've played at a high level, we've been able to compete with anybody in the country."

As for his schedule, which includes the Big Ten home opener against Penn State and conference road games at Ohio State, Michigan State, Nebraska and Maryland, Flood says bring it on.

"I love the way these divisions are set up," he said. "We've got the most regional schedule that we could have had with the Eastern Division. I know our players are excited about it. If you recruit the right people, they are competitors. They want to go against the best."

Hamilton will be ready.

"There's nothing wrong with being an offensive lineman, 6-5, 300 pounds," he said. "You've been blessed with some amazing physical attributes, no question about it. I have not had the same blessings as you, so I'm going to do whatever it takes to come out on top."



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