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Quarterback and middle linebacker remain huge question marks as the Spring Game approaches

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers is now two-thirds of the way to the Spring Game. If Chris Ash's comments are any indicator, they are not ready.


The big news of the day comes from the QB battle. In his post-practice press conference, Ash noted that Laviano had a poor scrimmage on Saturday and that the competition was even again. However, he made it abundantly clear that it was Laviano's mishaps, not Hayden Rettig's improvement that made them even once again. That being said, Laviano took the first-team reps today. Ash is still not 100% sure how he will use them in the Spring Game.

It seems like this is pretty much Laviano's job to lose, as he is constantly being treated like the starter and the status of the "competition" has been entirely dictated by his play. Whenever Ash references a change in the status, he mentions something Laviano has done. The fact that he fell back means that Hayden Rettig has yet another chance to seize the job. However, he has yet to show anything worthy of overtaking Laviano, unless you count his deep pass in the scrimmage on Saturday, which Laviano can't do.


By all accounts, the linebacker position is an absolute shit show. Jay Niemann and Chris Ash have both said it is a mess and there hasn't seemed to be any improvement since Niemann first made those comments over 2 weeks ago. Dan Duggan noted that Najee Clayton seemed to have locked up the starting SLB position which is good. Clayton is a converted safety and true sophomore after being used on special teams last year. SLB is now a hybrid position between linebacker and safety, and Ash said he prefers to move bigger safeties into that position. It is easier to teach a safety linebacker skills than to teach a linebacker safety skills, especially big safeties like Clayton.

Deonte Roberts has moved from WLB to MLB and has been taking first team reps. That is troubling to me since Isaiah Johnson should be starting. Johnson clearly hasn't done enough to win the job but was so close last year. Roberts is only a true sophomore after serving as the primary backup LB last year and is not penciled in anywhere yet, obviously. It seems like the staff is just doing trial and error with the middle linebacker spot. At WLB, Trevor Morris and Brandon Russell are getting the majority of reps.

Rugby Tackling

One of the bigger changes Chris Ash brought was a completely new method of tackling. He noted that he had been teaching tackling wrong his whole career until they discovered it a few years ago.

Recruiting Update

Rutgers is officially in play for the top(!!!) player in New Jersey in 2017. 4-star OT Micah Clark released his top 5 (in order) and Rutgers stood atop the list in front of Michigan. Rutgers is now in serious contention for 3 of NJ's top 6 players when using the 247 Composite Rankings. Considering their history recruiting NJ, a haul of Clark (1), Ben Petrula (5), and Bo Melton (6) would be historic and off the charts.

Other Notes

  • Tariq Cole seems to have locked up the LT job, as he is the mainstay on the first team lineup
  • Ash noted that Trey Sneed was "knighted" due to his tireless work ethic in all areas
  • Ash said he didn't support satellite camps when answering a question about Harbaugh speaking at Paramus Catholic
  • There have been no new "knightings" since Saturday
  • Thursday was the first outside practice of the Spring
  • Ash does not feel good about the kicking game
  • Click here to see Ash's press conference highlights

Ash's full press conference: