It has already been a week since we welcomed spring on our calendars, but we can officially welcome spring today with the return of Rutgers football. 14 practices and the Friday Knight Lights Spring Game will be headlined by position battles in the safety, defensive end, middle linebacker, and of course quarterback. Here are some of the storylines to watch as spring ball unfolds in Piscataway:
The people want Hayden Rettig
No disrespect to Chris Laviano, who has done an admirable job as Gary Nova's backup this past season, but fans are salivating at the chance to finally see what Hayden Rettig can do in the first-team offense. From the moment the former four-star recruit arrived on campus, news of his "naturally-gifted" arm (as Kevin Snyder put in this interview) began to make its way across Rutgers message boards. Rettig was immediately deemed a potential star in the making, with the only problem being his lack of meaningful game experience.
Kyle Flood has stated it will be an open competition between all quarterbacks, as Rettig, Laviano, and freshman Giovanni Rescigno are all listed with the "OR" next to their names. However, the fanbase wants to see Rettig fulfill his potential that we've all heard about for over one year now. The tone of next season will have a lot to do with who wins this quarterback derby, and it's entirely likely we won't have a winner by April 24.
Kiy Hester returns
As one of the members of the infamous decommit class of 2014, Hester has quickly become an important fixture in the Knights' locker room. The highly-rated safety recruit brings immediate talent to a position of need, as someone will need to fill in for three-year starter Lorenzo Waters. Hester transferred to Rutgers from Miami due to family reasons, but it really just seemed like the Hurricanes weren't a good fit for him. He's done his best to show current recruits that Rutgers is a great program and that staying home was the best decision for him, and could be for others as well.
Hester has ties to New Jersey's top recruits, including his brother Quayshon Alexander, a four-star defensive end from DePaul. Kiy's success could have significant impact on Rutgers' recruiting.
Of course we have a new offensive coordinator
It's Ben McDaniels' time. For what feels like a never-ending process for Rutgers football, the Knights will be breaking in a new offensive coordinator this season. However, there is some real potential for RU to have a long-term guy at the helm of the offense for once. While the Fridge was a great hire that paid dividends last season, his age and health were issues before he even called a play for Kyle Flood.
McDaniels is your typical young, energetic coach that screams potential. Furthermore, he comes from a coaching pedigree, as his brother Josh is employed by the same NFL team that loves to sign former Rutgers players. Even better, Ralph Friedgen will remain on staff as a special adviser to offer his wisdom to the coaching staff. If McDaniels can maintain the offensive production from last year, which is doable with talent at RB and WR, Flood could finally close that revolving door at OC.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>I will be committing at Bergen Catholic on April 15th at 3 pm. All media, students, & friends can come . <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DeusVult?src=hash">#DeusVult</a> <a href="http://t.co/ByYk5xl621">pic.twitter.com/ByYk5xl621</a></p>— Jarrett Guarantano (@Guarantano18) <a href="https://twitter.com/Guarantano18/status/581249381283790849">March 27, 2015</a></blockquote>
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The first domino in the Rutgers quarterback recruitment saga will come to an end during Rutgers' 15 days of spring. In possibly the biggest announcement since Savon Huggins' commitment ceremony four years ago, Guarantano can make a lot of Scarlet Knight fans happy with a pledge to play for his home state program. For those who follow recruiting, all eyes will be on Bergen Catholic on April 15.