If the message was not clear after an early offer from the Rutgers staff, head coach Chris Ash hammered his vision home with 2018 quarterback Shelton Applewhite Jr. during a Thursday unofficial visit to campus.
Rutgers wants a dynamic quarterback in 2018, and Ash sees a strong fit in Applewhite.
“I enjoyed seeing how things have changed,” Applewhite said on his visit. “Coach Ash told me it was only the beginning of what they have planned for me to see. After my senior year if I commit, I’d have a chance to compete and play right away, start right away.”
Rutgers football welcomed a Wayne (N.J.) DePaul Catholic tour bus to campus for Thursday for practice, and zoned in on Applewhite.
“It goes to show that a Big Ten school really trusts in me to be that man to lead their team,” Applewhite said. “I talked to my recruiting coach, [defensive backs] coach [Bill] Busch, and told me they were going to win the Big Ten title this year. I said, ‘yeah, I believe you guys have the ability to.’
“… He didn’t want me to miss out on something like that in another two years. He didn’t want me to watch my hometown school do something big while I’m somewhere else watching. That wouldn’t feel good.”
Applewhite visits North Carolina and Temple next week and has plans for Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State in the summer. He works in a shotgun attack with DePaul, but is open to any offensive style at the next level.
“I’m a very versatile quarterback,” Applewhite said. “I can adjust to any offense. I’m a fast learner, so I’ll be a pocket quarterback if I have to be or I can use my speed. I can fit anywhere.”
The Rutgers power-spread attack impressed during a Thursday practice with the focus on no huddle.
“It was a fast tempo, but it’s nothing that I can’t handle,” Applewhite said. “I think a lot of defenses are going to be on their heels this year. They’re not going to know what to expect. They have a whole different program. I was watching coach Ash and he was getting on one of the players. He just stood there and took it and then he went back in and got the job done. There’s a crazy amount of positive energy around the team.”