School is in session for Rutgers. The first of three summer academic periods means another wave of prospects. Rutgers has new excitement in Piscataway, N.J., with its biggest crop of first-session enrollees since it joined the Big Ten (click their profiles for a full story archive). We look deeper at each addition, and have a little fun with early playing-time predictions.
The Skinny – Louisville transfer Kyle Bolin changed the game for Chris Ash and Jerry Kill. Instead of a vacant quarterback room, Rutgers adds an experienced, proven player to push returning starter Giovanni Rescigno. While there are plenty of examples of quarterback-transfer flops, Bolin is not a traditional story. Bolin played parts of three seasons for the Cardinals before Lamar Jackson became a Heisman winner.
Scarlet Report Projection – Starting quarterback.
The Skinny – The Johnathan Lewis conversation can finally take the next step after a year's worth of hype and anticipation. While Lewis may be the future of the position at Rutgers, he is still an 18-year old with zero college experience. Instead of being the next Cardale Jones or Tom Savage, Lewis' first summer should be about adjustment. The best thing about quarterbacks is Rutgers brings in real competition with two more likely coming next season.
Scarlet Report Projection – Plays as true freshman.
The Skinny – Why were Rutgers and Delaware the only schools on this guy? Not only is Ryan Anderson a bright mind and strong leg, the former Olivet punter is an All-American. Even if Anderson takes a step back in the Big Ten, he would be a massive upgrade at one of the program's greatest weaknesses. Anderson is an athlete with 1,000-yard seasons and 20-point basketball games on his high-school resume.
Scarlet Report Projection – Instant starter.
The Skinny – Augustus Edwards is back home after a solid undergraduate career at Miami. Rutgers did its research with Edwards before the former top New York running back committed in late February. Why add Edwards with two seasoned seniors back for Rutgers? One, Edwards' addition sends a message to Josh Hicks and Robert Martin that competition never stops. Two, Edwards is good. Edwards brings a powerful punch and 12 touchdowns worth of scoring experience.
Scarlet Report Projection – Co-starter's share of running back reps.
May Play Early
The Skinny – Rutgers grabbed Raheem Blackshear away from Michigan State and Temple late. The running back room has three seniors with starting experience plus two sophomores that played last season. Regardless, running back is unpredictable. Blackshear has receiver experience and can contribute on special teams. Rutgers has not yet found a viable return option behind Janarion Grant.
Scarlet Report Projection – Special teams.
The Skinny – Travis Vokolek's recruitment was slow but his development since National Signing Day was explosive. Called a “late bloomer” by tight ends coach Vince Okruch, Vokolek arrives with huge upside after his first offseason of weight training. Rutgers showed more tight end targets in the new offense. Vokolek, the son of a long-time college coach, should pick up the offense quickly and find a chance to play.
Scarlet Report Projection – Special teams, backup tight end.
The Skinny – Syhiem Simmons is more than an extra body at the SAM-hybrid position. While he faces plenty of competition -- Tyreek Williams is a returning starter, Ross Douglas rotating between roles and the hopefully-healthy Ronnie James – Simmons will find a role this season. Not only does he approach special teams with an edge, but the one-time Alabama target can also long snap and covers well over the middle.
Scarlet Report Projection – Second-team linebacker, special teams starter.
The Skinny – Tennessee's top-ranked tight end, TiJaun Mason brings all the speed and athleticism but needs to add weight. Does Rutgers have enough depth at defensive end to properly develop the next wave of players?
Scarlet Report Projection – Red-shirt.
The Skinny – Georgia transfer Juwuan Briscoe is fast, very fast. A 4.43 laser time in high school put Briscoe on the map for top schools in every conference but does he have the other qualities needed for a cornerback? Briscoe played 18 games over two years with the Bulldogs, and Rutgers represents a fresh start with a packed room of defensive back coaches.
Scarlet Report Projection – Red-shirt (NCAA mandated).