The Competition – From what Rutgers showed during spring practice, training camp represents a wide open competition … for the backup job. No, Chris Laviano is not yet the starting quarterback, and he has to earn it with a solid camp, but Rutgers gave the Long Island junior a solid push in spring with first-team reps.
Laviano dominated the workload for starters in spring. Behind him, things get interesting. Hayden Rettig showed Rutgers enough in spring to publicly keep the battle open, and two better-fitting quarterbacks for the offense joined the program in May.
TCU grad transfer Zach Allen and true freshman Tylin Oden join the race. Both bring more mobility to the position but come with questions. Allen was most recently a wide receiver at TCU. Oden comes with no experience and a need for the weight room. A potential three-man race for the backup job only pushes Laviano harder. The issue comes with reps. There were not enough reps for three quarterbacks in spring and as many as five need them in training camp.
Storyline Central – Can Laviano Handle the Spotlight? – With multiple chances in front of the spotlight, Laviano did not represent himself well as the leader of the offense. When you're the starting quarterback, you're a captain and part of that is answering tough questions. When Laviano reacts poorly to fans or refuses to speak after a game (even the spring game) it forces his teammates into awkward situations.
Both the Kyle Flood and Chris Ash regimes worked with Laviano in terms of media training, and the best case scenario for Rutgers is a more publicly confident starting quarterback. Laviano can absolutely be an effective Rutgers quarterback.
Prospect Development – Allen's addition puts Oden in a great place for the first camp. Allen cannot be a long-term answer at the position, but he allows Rutgers to build one. Giovanni Rescigno's time in the quarterback race slowly decreased in spring practice. He is mobile but did not get the same attention in spring. Red-shirt freshman Michael Dare needs more time.
Preseason Grade – C – Laviano relied heavily on Leonte Carroo, and that cannot happen in 2016. While Carroo begins his career as a Miami Dolphin, Laviano or any other potential starting quarterback has to find a new identity in Drew Mehringer's spread offense. It starts with quick decisions and accuracy at the position. The good news is Rutgers now has three quarterbacks with real college experience compared to just one heading into the 2015 season.