There’s a battle brewing on the outside of High Point Solution Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey. The Rutgers Scarlet Knights, led by Head Coach Chris Ash, are looking at a three-way battle to find the starting quarterback for the upcoming season.
On the new turf of the Marco Battaglia practice facility, quarterbacks Kyle Bolin, Giovanni Rescigno and true freshman Johnathan Lewis will compete to lead Rutgers on September 1 as they welcome Washington.
Each signal caller brings a different skill set to the offense, as well as various levels of experience. Some have more upside than the others, which will help their pleas for playtime. Let’s discuss each players case for the right to lead new offensive coordinators Jerry Kill’s offense in 2017.
Let’s start with the incumbent Giovanni Rescigno, who’s been taking reps with the first team since spring camp. Rescigno was the next man up in 2016 after then starter Chris Leviano was benched midway through the season. His stats were modest, as he recorded 889 yards through the air and seven total touchdowns to five interceptions in six starts.
The Michigan native didn’t lead the team to any wins but with lackluster play calling and a depleted roster, that may not have been all his fault. In the sample size that we got of Rescigno, he showed ample ability to throw the medium to deep ball. There were a few times where Giovanni found current Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Andre Patton streaking deep across the middle placing the pigskin perfectly in reach for touchdowns. He even showed stints of his ability to be a dual threat quarterback (i.e 42-yard touchdown run vs Howard) which could work in Kills new hybrid offense.
After all, Rescigno has the most experience with the team that’s together right now, but in all it’s still limited. Maybe a guy with some minimal experience but in a more high-octane offense could add some flavor to the competition. Oh wait.
Que Louisville transfer Kyle Bolin. Bolin spent his first four years quarterbacking for the Louisville Cardinals and is considered more of a pro-style quarterback. He has more experience than those in competition as he split time with Lamar Jackson before the latter pulled off with the job (and the Heisman). The fact that he lost his job to Jackson is no knock on Bolin, as he is clearly a once in a generation talent.
In seven games in 2015, Bolin threw for nearly 1,200 yards with seven touchdowns to six interceptions. He showed ample ability to be a presence in the pocket, even with it collapsing around him. Rescigno may be more mobile than Bolin, but what he lacks in mobility he makes up for with poise and arm strength. His mental processing is also there, as he often accepted check down routes when routes are covered over the top. Expect the Kentucky native to make the most of the opportunities he’s given in training camp.
Last, but certainly not least we take a look at the crown jewel of Chris Ash’s 2017 recruiting class. Johnathan Lewis decided to stay home in Jersey when he committed to the Scarlet Knights over other offers like Georgia and Boston College. The former 3-star recruit chose Rutgers with the idea of playing time in mind, and he may not be far from it.
Lewis is without a doubt the future of the Scarlet Knights and already has ideal size at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds The St. Peter’s Prep product would be the most ideal in Kill’s offense as he is mobile and has a cannon for a right arm. The only problem is, of course, that he lacks experience at the college level, which may be enough to keep him on the bench for a bit.
Hear me out, thrusting him into a starting job would put him up against daunting defenses that the Big Ten East has to offer. He could gain valuable experience, but at what cost? Of course, it could go both ways, Lewis could also get in there and show all the promise that coaches expect of him.
In all, I wouldn’t be surprised if all three quarterbacks saw action this season. This Rutgers team is different than the one of last year. They have been reinforced with talented transfers and true freshman, which will make any of the trio’s life easier. We should all see a higher level of quarterback play that Rutgers has been missing for a while now. Expect a starter to be named rather soon, as Ash has stated publicly that he’d like to give his starter ample time to practice with the first unit.
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