As the Rutgers football team prepares for its season opener at Michigan State on Saturday, more details about the team were released as head football coach Greg Schiano released the official depth chart on Monday morning. This depth chart was described as “two-deep,” showing the student-athletes who would be first and second string at each position going into game one of the season.
A few of the positions have an “OR” label attached to them, which means the Scarlet Knights are still choosing between two student-athletes who could win the starting spot at that position.
One of these undecided positions is quarterback. The incumbent starter is junior quarterback Artur Sitkowski, who is in a competition for his starting spot with graduate student Noah Vedral, who transferred from Nebraska in his final year of eligibility.
Sitkowski comes into the season having started games in both of his first two years. He started 11 of 12 games his freshman year, not starting the final game against the Spartans, according to Sports Reference.
That season, Sitkowski threw four touchdowns and 18 interceptions, winning a week one matchup against Texas State and losing 10 straight starts after. Last year, he played three games of the season, throwing for one touchdown and two interceptions before choosing to redshirt the rest of the season to maintain a year of eligibility.
He also entered the transfer portal last November, but exited the portal when Schiano was announced to be the next head coach of Rutgers.
Vedral comes into Piscataway with little starting experience with the Cornhuskers. Last year, he had a career high 52 passing attempts. Vedral has not thrown a passing touchdown since his freshman year at Central Florida, according to ESPN.
In his two years at Nebraska, Vedral rushed for four touchdowns and threw one interception. Both quarterback options look to learn the system being put in place by new offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson in order to gain the permanent starting position.
This Knights team looks to be emphasizing game experience and knowledge of the program, as nearly every position has a starter that is either a junior or a senior. The only two positions where an underclassman is in a competition for a starting position is at center and kicker.
Sophomore center CJ Hanson, hailing from Jackson, New Jersey, is one of the two options at the position. He is currently listed as “OR” along with senior center Brendan Bordner, a convert from the defensive line where he played in all 12 games last year. Sophomore kicker Guy Fava looks to unseat senior kicker Justin Davidovicz. Fava was an All-State First Team member his senior year at Don Bosco Prep, which was also his first season playing football.
The depth chart shows which transfers are poised to make an immediate impact on the Banks. Junior wide receiver Aron Cruickshank, a transfer from Wisconsin who notably returned a kick for a touchdown in the 2018 Rose Bowl, has been listed as a starter for the upcoming game.
Senior safety Brendon White, who recently transferred from Ohio State, is also listed as a starter on the depth chart. He is familiar with Schiano, as Schiano was his defensive coordinator on the Buckeyes in 2018. White won the Most Valuable Player award for 2019's Rose Bowl, tallying eight tackles and also an interception on a two-point conversion play in the win over Washington.
While many questions still remain going into the weekend, Schiano knows his team needs to overcome that in order to compete on the field.
“We've got a game here and we have our countdown clock going, and it's coming,” Schiano said. “And as I keep telling the team, 'Whether you're ready, we're going to kick the ball off at noon. And we need to be ready.'”
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