Rutgers lands its top quarterback target in Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep three-star Johnathan Lewis. The new coaching staff identified Lewis early as its top target, and his latest visit to campus meant commitment for the 2017 prospect.
Lewis verbally committed Saturday to head coach Chris Ash.
“Coach Ash's vision is a great one,” Lewis said. “He's changed so many things at Rutgers already in the short amount of time. If he can do that in a short amount of time, imagine when I'm a freshman.”
Lewis picked Rutgers with a strong fit in the power-spread offense and relationship with offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer.
“Rutgers is a great fit for me, especially the offense they run,” Lewis said. “It's just like the one at Prep. Mehringer is a great guy. He's not like the other recruiters. He's high-spirited and very fun to be around and he has produced a lot of talented quarterbacks.”
Like many commits, Lewis wants to be a leader and offered a simple message to other local recruits on the Rutgers radar.
“Why go somewhere else when you can show out for your state? Rutgers is the place to say that you rep Jersey,” Lewis said.
Lewis heads to Rutgers in 2017 with the full support of his coaching staff.
“I think for the thing that Rutgers wants to do now, he's a perfect fit,” said St. Peter's Prep head coach Rich Hansen, who also coached K.J. Gray, D'won Walker, Keith Lumpkin and Savon Huggins. “I think his skillset fits and matches the design. I think that's always a key consideration when a kid is going to pull the trigger.”
Lewis represents another mobile option for the Rutgers arsenal, but he brings more than quick feet to the position.
“He's 6-foot-3, he's 225 now and he's done a really good job in the offseason,” Hansen said. “I think most people have him listed as a dual-threat but he can spin it as well as anybody. I think that's something that makes him so attractive. He's got escapability, really good arm strength and really good head on his shoulders. His acumen is just really something that's going to play into the Rutgers scheme.”
Lewis' skillset makes him a potential early competitor at quarterback in Mehringer's offense. A similar offense to what St. Peter's Prep runs, Lewis has the right mindset in the eyes of his head coach.
“He's a competitor, man,” Hansen said. “I think that's the thing you better have at the next level because everything is a dogfight. Every year is a dogfight for playing time. John has had to compete with us and he's going to have to compete his senior year. We have some good players at the position, and obviously John is going to have to really perform will and I think he will and I'm excited. He's definitely a kid who likes to get after it.”
Rutgers now holds commitments from three No. 1 players at their position in the state of New Jersey – Lewis, offensive tackle Micah Clark and wide receiver Bo Melton. Lewis' leadership and popularity should help with other top targets, Hansen said.
“He's a high-character kid,” Hansen said. “I think that the thing about him is that he's never going to embarrass the state. He's never going to embarrass Rutgers. He's never going to embarrass his family. He says the right things, does the right things. Forget about the player, he's the kind of kid and the kind of person that they want in the program, no question about it.”