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Future of Rutgers football 2024: Wide receivers

Senior wide receiver Christian Dremel will be a leader of the Rutgers football team's wide receiver room in 2024. – Photo by Evan Leong

Approximately a week into spring practices, the Rutgers football team is gearing up for another pivotal year. In the third edition of Future of Rutgers Football, The Daily Targum previews the 2024 wide receiver room.

The group of receivers for the Scarlet Knights is one of the more intriguing position groups on the team. While there is not much-proven production against Big Ten competition, there is an excellent mix of youth and experience with a high ceiling in the passing game. After losing former seniors JaQuae Jackson and Isaiah Washington to graduation, there is definitely room for some younger weapons to break out.

The likely three starters will be a trio of senior wide receivers. Naseim Brantley and Dymere Miller will line up on the outside and Christian Dremel, the team's leading receiver in 2023, will line up in the slot once again.

Brantley and Miller will join Rutgers' offense for the first time. Miller committed to the Knights in December, while Brantley missed the entire 2023 season dealing with an NCAA eligibility issue. He was cleared in late January and now brings back the hype he first received upon initially transferring from Western Illinois. Brantley brings great ball skills as a deep threat for either senior quarterback Gavin Wimsatt or senior quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis.

On the opposite side, Miller is a speed demon who lit up Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) scoreboards at Monmouth, leading all of FCS in receiving yards. He gave several record-breaking performances for the Hawks, including a whopping 11 catches and 333 yards in a loss to New Hampshire. It remains to be seen how Miller and Brantley will adjust to the jump in competition but they have the FCS pedigree to be key contributors.

In the slot, Dremel returns as one of Wimsatt's most reliable targets in 2023 and will likely be counted on as the safety blanket in the middle of the field. Dremel has the build of a classic slot receiver, with a slighter frame at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, but he knows how to find open looks against any defense and has soft hands to bring in any throws within his range.

Below the starting three receivers are intriguing options, all with their own strengths. Senior wide receiver Chris Long was slated to be a starter this past season but was injured in the season-opening win over Northwestern and missed the remainder of the season. Long is another deep threat who can take the top off the defense and can rotate in with the starters if needed.

Sophomore wide receiver Ian Strong showed several flashes but needed more consistent playing time to truly break out. He was at his best as a jump-ball receiver in the red zone with strong hands and a wide catch radius. The first reception of his collegiate career was a highlight-reel grab that showed his ceiling. Whether he can get more consistent targets, given the crowded receiver room, remains to be seen, but the talent is there.

Another new addition to the group comes in the form of junior wide receiver Thomas Amankwaa. After playing defensive back his first two years on the Banks, head coach Greg Schiano announced that Amankwaa would move to the offensive side of the ball.

Amankwaa was a star receiver during his final two seasons at Hillsborough High School. He showcased his athleticism with an impressive performance in the state championship game in 2022 at SHI Stadium on Busch campus, with Schiano in attendance.

Rutgers also brought two freshmen into the receiver room as part of its 2024 recruiting class. Freshman wide receiver KJ Duff has one of the highest ceilings of the entire group, as he has the athleticism and hands of a wide receiver but the size and build of a tight end. In fact, the former four-star recruit was listed as a tight end for most of the recruiting process but will be a wide receiver for the Knights. While he may take some time to truly break into the offense, his pure talent level is as exciting as anyone's on the entire team.

Freshman wide receiver Ben Black represents the other young newcomer. He brings speed and then some to the table, as he will likely be one of the fastest players on the entire roster. This could mean he could contribute as a receiver and maybe as a returner, a position that was in flux for much of the season in 2023. Black is another player with a high ceiling, thanks to his game-breaking speed.

Behind the newcomers and starters, Rutgers has ample depth in the wide receiver department. A quartet of sophomore wide receivers, Deondre Johnson, Famah Toure, Dylan Braithwaite and Davoun Fuse, each have potential of their own.

The Knights' wide receiver room is full of potential, with several veterans and younger players looking to break out in wide receiver coach Dave Brock's second year. This group will be key to unlocking the passing game and giving the running game a good complement to keep defenses honest.

For more updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @TargumSports on X.

To view more of Alec Crouthamel's work, follow @aleccr12 on X.

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