PISCATAWAY - For Lorenzo Waters, the past two years were spent honing his skills on the field and expanding his football IQ in the film room, preparing himself for this moment.
With Rutgers' secondary stockpiled with talent, the redshirt sophomore had to bide his time and wait for his opportunity. Upon the graduation of free safety David Rowe, Waters received that opening this past spring.
"It was a long wait given that I had great players in front of me," Waters said after Rutgers fourth training camp practice. "But now that it's my turn I'm ready to take over the role at strong safety and do what I have to do."
What he has to do is fill in at strong safety - Duron Harmon moved over to free safety - and be the new face in a secondary that is lauded as not only the best in the Big East, but one of the best in the country.
"I'm doing all right," Waters said when asked how he's handling the role of the starter. "I'm making some mistakes, but they're correctable mistakes. So I just go back to the film room, make some changes, and get back on the field and do better next time."
Fortunately for Waters, breaking down film is one of his strengths.
Harmon praised Waters for his diligence in the film room. Combine that with his skills as a football player, and Waters has a high ceiling.
"He's a real student of the game. That's the reason why he's developed so fast. He's not afraid to go in there and watch extra film and ask a few questions and everything like that," Harmon said. "With his athletic ability and his mind, like I said, the sky is the limit for that guy."
For now, he just has to step into a veteran secondary and make sure he's not the weak link - and make sure he's not the reason this secondary doesn't live up to the preseason hype.
Seems like an awful lot of pressure for the Accokeek, Md. native. But Waters doesn't see it that way. He's been waiting too long for this moment to feel pressure.
"I wouldn't really call it pressure. I'd call it excitement," Waters said. "I know what I can do, I know what I'm doing, so I'm just going to go out there and do it."
Even though redshirting and then serving as a reserve last year wasn't always easy, it's benefited him in the long run. The 6-foot, 200-pounder feels like the experiences have prepared him for the moment now in front of him.
"It definitely taught me some things," Waters said. "Whenever you get here you always want to play, but looking back it was definitely worth my time sitting back and watching some of the older guys play in front of me. Now I can take the things I learned from them and apply them to the field."
Things like defensive keys, how to make the different reads and how to defend certain packages.
And while Waters knows he needs the rest of this training camp to prepare him for what's ahead, September 1 can't come soon enough.
"Very anxious," Waters said when asked how antsy he is for the opening game at Tulane. "Can't wait."