Rutgers shows more depth heading into Schiano’s 2nd season
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Rutgers is going to have a lot more depth on its roster when Greg Schiano starts his second season back in charge of the Scarlet Knights’ football program.
Part of the increase has to do with some players returning for an extra season after the NCAA decided not to count the shortened COVID-19 campaign in 2020 against their eligibility. The other part is the Scarlet Knights added more talent through transfers and recruiting.
The Scarlet-White spring game on Thursday night showcased the depth at running back, wide receiver, tight end and in the secondary.
The game also indicated sophomore Cole Snyder and freshman Evan Simon may be able to jump in and play quarterback if senior Noah Vedral slumps or gets hurt.
The hardest thing to evaluate was the play of the lines. The defense used a very basic game plan with few gimmicks, so it was not a true test for either group. The evaluations were basically seeing one-on-one matchups.
“I really wanted to just see guys block and tackle and run and throw and catch,” said Schiano, who was not able to have a spring camp last season because of the pandemic. “I thought that was accomplished.”
Roughly 5,000 fans attended the game at SHI stadium, the first crowd of any size at home in Schiano’s second tenure.
There were a lot of positives.
Vedral, who had ankle surgery after last season, was 9 of 13 for 133 yards in starting for the Scarlet team. Snyder hit 13 of 16 for 148 yards and two touchdowns for the White team. Simon was 9 of 16 for 114 yards and a TD backing up Vedral.
Isaiah Washington had the best play among the receivers, a one-handed catch and run for a touchdown on a 65-yard pass play with Snyder. Monterio Hunt had Snyder’s other TD on a 28-yard pass.
Simon had a 23-yard scoring pass to Shameen Jones.
One of the biggest surprises was the production from the tight ends. Jovani Haskins and Mark Alaimo combined for 13 catches last season. Haskins had six for 58 yards on Thursday, and Alaimo had three for 22. Freshman Victor Konopka, a 6-foot-7 former basketball player, had three catches for 55 yards.
Vedral said it was great to get a chance to sit back and watch the offense at times.
“To look around and see the multitude of guys making plays across the board. It was really, really fun,” he said. “I think it really does show the depth. The second team guys have done a great job, along with the first guys mastering this offense and continuing to grow and learn it through and through.”
Rutgers went 3-6 last season playing nine Big Ten games. The three wins matched the total the Scarlet Knights produced in 2018 and ’19 combined. The team was 0-9 in the conference in both seasons.
Schiano refused to discuss whether the Scartlet Knights might make a bowl game next season. When pressed, he said he liked the team, it worked hard and players were mature.
“We have some good leaders that that run the team and that’s important,” Schiano said. “And it needs to continue to grow. When you have guys in the locker room that are running on the team and allows us to do our job. It gives us a chance.”
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