(Part 1/3) How Does Each Offensive Position Look For Rutgers Football? Will Any Freshmen Get On The Field?
With spring practice in the rear view mirror, freshman moving, and training camp on the horizon, (as well as recruiting heating up with camps *cough* Michigan *cough*), I thought it would be a good idea to take a quick look at the incoming freshman class and their chances of playing time this season along with an assessment of the roster.
Today we look at the offense.
QB’s: Redshirt juniors Chris Laviano (2,247 yards, 16 touchdowns, 12 interceptions) and Hayden Rettig (233 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions) pulled away from redshirt sophomore Gio Rescigno during spring practice, and the pair of fourth-year signal callers will continue to duke it out during the summer. The time put in and progress made before camp opens in August will be critical as well. Will either have a better grasp of the playbook? Will one have better leadership qualities? How did their skill-sets improve? Laviano has the edge as of now, but Rettig has the stronger arm and looks to be closing ground. The new power-spread high-tempo offense is a different look than the previous Pro-Style scheme, and the quarterback that is less sloppy and can make the reads will play.
It is highly unlikely that three-star freshman Tylin Oden will play this season. If he does, it’s a bad sign as that would likely mean that Laviano, Rettig, Resigno, and possibly even Mike Dare and others need to get injured or play really poorly. Oden needs to continue to add bulk to his 6-foot-5, 185-pound frame to handle the rigors of the Big Ten.
**2017 QB Commit Johnathan Lewis was invited to the Elite 11 Finals in Los Angeles. Last year, Anthony Russo, who eventually signed with Temple, was invited as well.
RB’s: Juniors Robert Martin (763 yards, six scores) and Josh Hicks (674 yards, four touchdowns) are the favorites and will carry the load thi s season (with senior Justin Goodwin mixed in). But three-star running back Trey Sneed was the first RB “knighted” this spring, got some first-team reps, and has the look of a Big Ten-ready back. Sneed made a good first impression and will only improve. He could play on special teams, but it is still too early to get a firm idea what his role will be. It’ll be interesting to see if the Florida native red-shirt’s or not.
The running backs have called the offense a running backs dream, so if the offense can execute, fans could be in for a treat.
TE: Senior Nick Arcidiacono and juniors Matt Flanagan and Charles Scarff make up the depth chart as all three established themselves as a close 1-2-3 punch.
In the new offense, the tight ends line up all over the field including at the normal spot on the line, out wide like a receiver, or possibly even in the backfield. They must be versatile. Flanagan (11 catches, 110 yards, three touchdowns)is the lead candidate to start and is currently No. 1 on the depth chart, but Arcidiacono (12 catches, 92 yards last year) is basically 1b . The Scarlet Knights lost Anthony Folkerts to transfer and didn’t sign any to the position in the 2016 class, but they are in good shape depth wise with George Behr and Nakia Griffin-Stewart waiting in the wings. UPDATE. Rutgers added former Miami (Florida) tight end Jerome Washington by way of transfer. Will sit out 2016 due to transfer rules and will have two years of eligibility starting in 2017.
WR: Replacing 2016 third-round NFL Draft pick Leonte Carroo will be a tough task to say the least, but Rutgers has battled tested guys on the roster like seniors Andre Patton, Carlton Agudosi, John Tsimis, and Vance Mathews. But the x-factor here is slot receiver Janarion Grant. The speedy senior has been deadly since he was a freshman in the punt and kick return game, and after getting less chances with the ball in his hands on offense than fans have liked, he will be the focal point. If the spring game is any indication, his 11 receptions for 141 yards and a touchdown mean he will be used a lot. Grant can line up all over the field, and will get the ball on swing passes, screens, slants, and other ways. He is a chance to score every time he gets the ball.
Rutgers signed three wide outs in 2016, Mo Jabbie (nephew of Mohamed Sanu), Ahmed Bah, and Dacoven Bailey. Bailey is a shifty slot guy or H-back that could be a force as a returner as well. Jabbie has quick feet and is a solid route runner, while Bah is a taller deep threat.
OL: Rutgers signed a bevy of offensive lineman in this year’s class (Nick Krimin, Mike Lonsdorf, Sam Howson, and Mike Maietti), and they will most likely all redshirt as lineman usually need a year or two to bulk up and refine their craft before they can compete.
And while the Scarlet Knights only need to replace their starting left tackle for the last three years (Keith Lumpkin), three of the other four potential starters are seniors and depth will need to be added to replace them. Big 6-foot-6, 314-pound redshirt sophomore Tariq Cole looks to have a stronghold to replace Lumpkin at left tackle, and Dorian Miller (left guard), Derrick Nelson (center), Chris Muller (right guard), and J.J. Denman (right tackle) make up the starting five. Behind them you have guys like Marcus Applefield, Zack Heeman, Jonah Jackson, Jacquis Webb, and others providing other options if one or more were to go down.
In the Big Ten, you can never have too many linemen, and the 2017 class already has a couple commits as well like Micah Clark, Jamaal Beatty, and Sam Vretman.
By the way, what do you think of the report that Rutgers will give up a home game and play Maryland on Nov. 4, 2017 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx? What position group on offense are most concerned or comfortable with? What freshman will make an impact?
Chime in and leave a comment below, or contact me on Twitter @ChrisWasky
**In addition, DoubleGSports will be on hand at the Tri-State Showcase Satellite Camp at FDU on Wednesday.**
Thanks for reading. Next week, we will take a look at the defense and special teams.
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