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Finding the QB for 2016: Anthony Russo

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Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

With a new offense comes a new playbook and new personnel needs.

The most important position on the field is quarterback and that position is one reason why Rutgers had such a disappointing season in 2015.

I've decided to compile a list of possible starting QBs for the upcoming season. Each candidate will have his own article.

On Friday, I covered Giovanni Rescigno.Today, we will look at prized recruit, Anthony Russo.

The Numbers

Stats courtesy of MaxPreps and StudentSports (Elite 11)

The bottom line are Russo's stats from this past year, his senior year. It is pretty clear that the Elite 11 really helped develop from a game manager into an big-time QB. It is also clear his coaches trusted him a lot more and let him take over the offense. The first stat that jumps out is that he nearly doubled his passing yardage. He played 3 more games and had 69 more attempts for about 1000 more yards. HIs YPA rose from 10 to 12.2. His YPG rose from 138.7 to 197.2. He threw 14 more TDs. He took a huge step forward and his experience at the Elite 11 was definitely a huge reason for his increased success. We may see Russo gain a 4th star on recruiting sites soon.

Pros

  • Took nearly all of his snap from shotgun
  • Huge Arm
  • Great size (6-4, 221)
  • Was a winner in high school
  • Elite 11 QB
  • Started as a 2-star recruit and could wind up as a 4-star
  • High character kid by all accounts
  • Has only been getting better in the past 2 years

Cons

  • Not a runner
  • Not enrolling early
  • Would be a true freshman with no experience coming into fall camp
  • Hasn't actually signed yet

Can he be the guy?

YES. I trust Drew Mehringer and Mehringer seems to love Russo.

(I can confirm these are about Russo)

Beyond that, Russo has all the tools needed be a successful college QB minus the legs. He is huge, he has a big arm, he can make all the throws, he is great leader, he is a winner, the list goes on and on. Think of the offense that Ohio State won the National Championship with. Cardale Jones was playing QB and won the 3 biggest games of the season for the Buckeyes. At 6-5, 250, Jones has a very similar frame to Russo, just a little bit bigger. Cardale Jones runs a reported 4.93 40-yard-dash while Russo ran a 4.96 at a Nike combine. Jones has rushed for 617 yards in limited action in his Ohio State career, averaging around 4 YPC. There is no reason to believe Russo can't carry the ball occasionally and keep defenses in check. Obviously he won't be running it at the rate of Greg Ward Jr., but he will still have some carries and definitely get his fair share of rushing yards. In addition, Russo ran a spread-type offense in his senior year. If you watch his film, he takes just about every snap out of the shotgun, something he will be asked to do at Rutgers. IF he can learn the playbook quickly then I see no reason why he can't play as a true freshman, given the lack of QB talent on the roster.

Bottom Line

The only thing really holding Russo back is that he isn't on campus right now. He has yet to sign his LOI and won't make it to Rutgers until fall camp begins. That put him at a huge disadvantage, as the three QBs I have already covered will participlate in Spring practice and be better acclimated to the playbook. His playing time will be determined by how well he is able to adjust to the new offense and learn it on the fly while competing with 3 or 4 other QBs.

Chances of being starter Week 1, 2016: 30%

Other QB profiles: Chris Laviano Hayden RettigGiovanni Rescigno

Up Next: Davis Webb (Texas Tech grad transfer)