After the Rutgers football team failed to improve upon its 5-8 record from the 2021 season, all eyes are pointed toward the future and what can be done to secure the Scarlet Knights (4-8, 1-8) their first winning season since 2014.
While the Rutgers defense played well, the offense was stagnant. Going into next year, question marks remain on who will fill the quarterback position.
Senior quarterback Noah Vedral, who has been the familiar face under center for the Knights the past two years dealt with an upper-body injury to start the season. This meant the starting quarterback job was split between sophomores Gavin Wimsatt and Evan Simon.
With Vedral graduating this season, these two are currently the only recruited quarterbacks on the roster. Freshman Raeden Oliver and sophomore Gavin Rupp are both walk-on quarterbacks who have yet to play a single snap for Rutgers. That does not seem likely to change during the 2023 season.
Simon, the former three-star recruit, got most of the reps at quarterback to start the season. He completed 57.7 percent of his passes on 137 attempts for 777 yards while throwing four touchdown passes and six interceptions. He struggled especially against Big Ten opponents, throwing all six interceptions in three losses against Iowa, Ohio State and Nebraska.
Wimsatt was announced as the starting quarterback for the rest of the year beginning in a road matchup at Minnesota. A move this decisive is uncommon for head coach Greg Schiano given his usual style of rotating quarterbacks, but his dedication to discovering what the team had with Wimsatt was clear.
Wimsatt, a former four-star prospect, is one of the highest-graded quarterback recruits in the history of the program. He had an underwhelming season of struggles in his sophomore campaign year after only playing in a few games in his first year on the Banks.
Wimsatt lost all five of his starts to close out the season, completing 44.8 percent of his passes for 757 yards and throwing for five touchdowns and seven interceptions. The Owensboro, Kentucky, native did show flashes in a 6-point loss to Michigan State, where he went 20 for 34 with 236 yards passing and two touchdowns.
Another reason the Knights struggled is due to their offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson being fired midseason, two days after a blown 13-0 lead to Nebraska where the Knights allowed 14-straight unanswered points. Tight ends coach Nunzio Campanile took over as the offensive coordinator as well as the quarterback coach for the rest of the season.
The most recent quarterback news for the team is a three-star recruit Ajani Sheppard switching his commitment from Old Dominion to Rutgers. Sheppard was a star for his high school team at Iona Prep, taking over as a junior and winning 20 out of his 24 career starts. He also led his school to a city and state Catholic championship as a junior. Sheppard was extremely productive as he accumulated 73 total touchdowns in his three years of play.
The transfer portal is another option for the Knights to answer their quarterback question. Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong and Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz are two notable names who have entered the transfer portal. Schiano could look to bring in a high-end, win-now option at the quarterback position, which would give Wimsatt and Simon more time to develop.
The Rutgers defense is ready to win. The team simply needs a true quarterback to step up and lead the Knights into battle.
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