In 2015 -- Rutgers reeled in linebackers from four different states and in many different forms of enrollment in the class. Coach Kyle Flood announced five additions on National Signing Day in Kaiwan Lewis, Isaiah Johnson, Sidney Gopre, Trevor Morris and Deonte Roberts. Johnson, from junior college, and Roberts, from high school, enrolled for spring practice. Lewis joins the roster after he graduates this spring from South Carolina.
Expectations -- Lewis and Johnson could both be big-time additions for Rutgers. You don’t take a fifth-year transfer without expecting him to contribute right away. Lewis is a leading contender to replace Kevin Snyder, but he will not be back in New Jersey until the summer. Johnson is already enrolled after two years of junior college. He can red-shirt, but it is unlikely as he battles L.J. Liston in the middle. Steve Longa and Quentin Gause add understudies in Roberts and Morris respectively as both likely red-shirt. Three-star safety Najee Clayton could grow into a linebacker down the road. Gopre has big-time ability, but the expectations remain low until he enrolls, which Flood said he expects to happen in time for training camp. Rutgers added at least one body for every linebacker position, and have enough at middle linebacker to leave Longa on the weak side for this season.
In 2016 -- Rutgers has a great head start here with Jonathan Pollock’s commitment, but it needs another big-time linebacker in the class to go along with the former Mississippi State commit. This may be a year where prospects emerge late with camp season upcoming, but the Scarlet Knights are in the conversation for multiple regional talents like Koby Quansah, Jamir Jones and Rashawn Battle.
Needs Addressed? -- We’ll see. The Scarlet Knights signed a lot of bodies that could end up at linebacker, and it depends on how things pan out for each guy. Rutgers took a few chances at the position, and it will be interesting to see how the new additions pan out as they arrive. Rutgers needs at least one instant impact guy upon enrollment. That could be Johnson or Lewis or both, but whomever it is will have to earn their playing time. Like other transfers and fifth-year guys, nobody gets handed a job.