Note: the following post was written before yesterday's news that CB Al-Majid Hutchins was transferring to Stony Brook. I tried to dance around it, but he was by far everyone's #1 candidate to transfer. It's telling when the press is burying a player from day one - I mean, not just failing to mention someone, but actively highlighting shortcomings. That comment isn't meant to disparage Hutchins or pile on, but it's the truth.
Coach Schiano did briefly address to the topic of potential transfers at his final press conference.
"There is always those conversations that you have at the end of the season. Some guys have just played enough. Other guys look at as ‘I don't see myself playing here and it is very important for me not only to be on our team but to play on Saturdays.' We are going through meetings with players. That stuff will all come out at the signing conference. We always go over the state of where we are with guys. We will address that all in a month and a half or so. I try and get will all the players at some point and just touch base with them. Some come to me with ideas what they want to do and we evaluate it."
Based on a quick perusal of last year's archives, news on players transferring out didn't start trickling out until early-to-mid January.
Firstly I want to figure out how many scholarships are needed for the incoming recruiting class. Rutgers presently has 14 verbal commitments for the class of 2010, and that number likely won't exceed 20. Most likely is a finish in the 17-18 range or so. 12 departing scholarship seniors, plus Davis, plus Morales gets you to 14 (leaving the Graves question aside for now) open scholarships. Kordell Young has to be assumed to be on scholarship at this time, barring further setbacks.
I don't care to speculate on who exactly would be a candidate to transfer, but most readers likely have the same candidates in mind based on a relative lack of playing time. A useful heuristic here is to ask the following question: by a player's junior year, are they on or projected to be in the two-deep of the depth chart, or at least contributing in some fashion? If not, are there any extenuating circumstances?
Again, I must reiterate that I have absolutely no inside information on this topic. I'm about to list four players chosen solely by applying the criteria of players with two or one years of eligibility remaining that are unlikely to contribute. It is by no means an indication that I am privy to any privileged information on the topic, because that could not be further from the case. For anyone who wants to speculate about another player arguably not receiving enough playing time (like, say, a Jourdan Brooks), that's not the point of this exercise either. The players that meet the criteria are:
OL Wayne Thomas
DE Fabian Ruiz
LB Al-Ghaffar Lane
CB Al-Majid Hutchins
Say what you will about the chances of Marlon Romulus, Mo Lange, Sorie Bayoh, or Julian Hayes to play major roles in the coming year, but they all have better chances of contributing in some fashion. Particularly in the case of the OL, I'm not sure if shedding excess depth would be the best move right now.
Indeed, dealing with linemen can be a tricky thing. A Richard Muldrow hasn't accomplished much to this point, and has been seemingly passed by Desmond Stapleton, but developing those players often takes longer than with the skill positions. Take a Wayne Thomas - a cautionary tale for why I didn't necessarily want to go crazy over signing the likes of Antwan Lowery and Isaac Holmes. He was a high-profile recruit, and hasn't accomplished anything to this point, even being moved to the OL. His one saving grace remains that he was very raw coming out of high school, and it was unrealistic to expect immediate results. Of course, you could say the same about fellow Mercer County product Keith Newell, who left the team last year.
One complicating factor for any scholarship count is with walk-ons. It's unclear whether or not any of the departing senior walk-ons had earned ships, even contributors like Billy Anderson and Andrew DePaola. I don't have any information about this, but shouldn't a starter like Howard Barbieri be on ship by now? It's also possible that any injured players that won't return will not count towards the official 85 count. Not counting Barbieri, I have 71 scholarship players returning right now with eligibility remaining according to the official sk.com roster... which meshes perfectly with the number of players currently poised to depart.
Solely as a hypothetical exercise, with no consideration paid to any unique circumstances in each case: the most likely scenario is that 3-4 members of the roster transfer at the end of the semester, and 1-2 will no longer count towards the official 85 scholarship limit because of injuries.