Sam Hellman / Scarlet Report

Offensive Coordinator Jerry Kill Gives Take on Rutgers Class of 2017, Most Important Attribute

From quarterback Johnathan Lewis to late Rutgers targets on offense, new coordinator Jerry Kill breaks down what the Scarlet Knights gained on National Signing Day.

Jerry Kill spent more than a year off the road in recruiting after he stepped down at Minnesota. Although Kill could meet recruits on campus during time as a Kansas State administrator his appointment as Rutgers offensive coordinator also puts him back the the action as a recruiter.

While Kill, who joined the staff one month before National Signing Day, added his own flavor to the 2017 class late but his most important move as a recruiter came in keeping the quarterback on board.

Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep quarterback Johnathan Lewis was an early centerpiece to the class, one that Kill and coach Chris Ash prioritized after Drew Mehringer's departure.

“I think everybody knows, we all understand we've got to get a quarterback,” Kill said. “We're going to work hard with the ones we have, but Johnathan was a huge recruit for us. I can't wait to work with him. His film is fantastic. He's a dual-threat guy. He's 6-foot-4, 220, a smart young man. He comes from a good family. It's exciting.”

There was nothing complex about Kill's philosophy in recruiting. To run a successful spread attack in the Big Ten, Rutgers needs more speed everywhere. Kill was a primary voice for late recruits on offense, including running back Elijah Barnwell, slot receiver Hunter Hayek and H-Back Brendan DeVera.

“We helped ourselves a lot, because we recruited a ton of speed,” Kill said. “That's something that we need. We couldn't get away from anybody a year ago. Everybody we recruited can run. That's on both sides of the ball. We always talk about, when you turn programs around and coach Ash has the same philosophy that I do, recruit length and speed and build them in the weight room. As far as I'm concerned, we've got one of the best strength coaches in the country. He's unbelievable with what he's done.”

Kill views the 2017 recruiting class as “a step or two I the building process.”

“It's not going to be easy,” Kill said. “I said it was going to be a five-to-seven-year project at Minnesota and it's going to be a five-to-seven-year project at Rutgers. Maybe it will happen a little bit earlier. … we're going to need two or three recruiting classes and, really, this is the first one we've had at Rutgers.”

Kill and the rest of the Rutgers staff enjoyed a brief vacation after National Signing Day but everyone is back to work for the construction of 2018's recruiting class.

The real coaching begins next month for the start of spring campaign No. 2 under Ash.

“You get better when you get better players,” Kill said. “I've never seen a coach play a snap. You get better players and all of a sudden the coach is a good coach. It comes down to players. Our job is to make sure we get them in the right positions and get them the football and let them make plays.”

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