Gio Rescigno, who demonstrated enough talent in the second half of the Illinois game to be named the starter against Minnesota and beyond, is a redshirt sophomore who, even at the beginning of camp, was buried in the QB depth chart at Rutgers. Earlier this week, our own Griffin Whitmer wrote a good piece on Gio’s performance against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. I thought it would be a good idea to go back and remind everyone how it is that our newest starting quarterback came to be here on the banks of the ol’ Raritan.
Gio was a late addition to the 2014 recruiting class. For those of you with short memories, or don’t live this stuff the way I do, the 2014 recruiting class was one of great upheaval. Going from one of the best classes ever recruited, there were mass defections, and last-minute additions to the class coming in that year. Almost half, 12 to be exact, decommitted in that fall and winter as fans despaired watching high-rated recruits spurn Rutgers for other programs. The decommits continued almost up to National Signing Day, with (now) Penn State’s Saquon Barkley being the final nail in the decommit coffin of that year. Most cited “instability in the coaching staff.” That translates to “they don’t have an offensive coordinator yet!” This was just prior to Ralph Friedgen signing on as the offensive coordinator for the 2014 season. If you want to see a slide show on the Rutgers decommits from 2014 and 2015, that depressing piece of journalism can be seen here.
Among those who left was 4-star QB Tyler Wiegers, who flipped to Iowa in November, 2013. That left Rutgers without a quarterback recruit, which greatly increased the instability in the class. In late January, Giovanni Rescigno committed and signed in early February on National Signing Day (NSD). A lot of people, including Rutgers fans collectively said, “Who?” When he was offered, Gio had no offers from Power 5 schools, and in fact only ended with offers from Toledo and Bowling Green.
When he committed to Rutgers, Gio was a 3-star player from De La Salle High School in Warren, Michigan. His size and strength were definite pluses to his recruitment. In fact, Todderick Hunt from NJ.com had a great assessment of Gio’s strengths just prior to NSD. His high school stats are skewed for a very good reason: Gio didn’t play quarterback until his senior season. He was a backup for starter and former Michigan starting QB Shane Morris through Gio’s junior year. As a result, Gio didn’t start at QB until his senior season. Prior to that, he got on the field as a receiver.
Though recruited as a pro-style QB, his time as a receiver definitely shows now that he is a starter in a spread offense. He is able to run with speed and strength, and that is critical for a spread dual-threat quarterback. Interestingly, in the Todderick Hunt article discussed above, I think he made a perfect encapsulated description of the Gio we have seen the past two weeks. Todderick said, “He is a 6-4, 230-pound progression quarterback that throws an accurate ball with touch. He displays the confidence to hang in the pocket against the rush, yet still deliver a well-placed football with eyes down-field. Although creative with his feet, he is a throw-first quarterback with good technique, and a great feel for the game. He also displays the poise and leadership acumen required to run an offense at the FBS level.” Remember, folks, this was written well over 2½ years ago, so I think Mr. Hunt did a pretty damned good job in his description.
Being red-shirted as a freshman, that was a blessing in many ways, as he never saw the field under former head coach Kyle Flood. Like everyone else on the squad, he was forced to learn and entirely new playbook and style of play under Chris Ash, and it looks like it was time well spent. As a redshirt sophomore, he has two more seasons of eligibility available to the team, so assuming he grows into the job, his potential is sky-high. Even last spring, when buried in the depth chart, in a Ryan Dunleavy piece on APP.com, Gio described himself very well: “I think that’s something that I’m good at,” Rescigno said, “I’ve always prided myself as being a good runner. I don’t know why. It’s something that I’ve always liked to do. It’s something that’s natural to me. I don’t even really think about it. I just go out and do it.”
That is what we have seen of Gio so far, he has just gone out and done it. While he is demonstrating the errors of a young and inexperienced QB who is still learning, he is also showing a great arm, and good legs, two things that can not be taught.
Based upon the performance of the past game and a half, Gio looks like he could be the real deal. Every Scarlet Knight fan that reads that previous line is probably thinking, “I sure hope so!”