As you may have heard, Rutgers made yet another football recruiting splash today. However, this big move didn't come the way most in the Ash Era have so far, as former TCU quarterback Zach Allen announced that he will be taking his talents to the banks as a graduate transfer.
After a long process of decision making, I have decided that I want to play football at Rutgers! I'm excited to enroll and compete.— Zach Allen (@ZachAllen_12) June 8, 2016
Allen, who visited Rutgers last week, graduated from TCU in three years, so he is eligible to play this coming season, and has two years of eligibility remaining. In high school, Allen was a three-star recruit, and 247Sports ranked him the 2013 class's fifth-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the state of Texas. He was recruited by a number of teams looking for a dual-threat, including Minnesota, Syracuse, and New Mexico before ultimately committing to TCU in January 2013.
Allen redshirted as a freshman in 2013, and then served as a backup to current Seahawks quarterback Trevone Boykin as a sophomore. He saw action in just one game during that 2014 season, completing 2-of-2 passes for 17 yards against Texas Tech in a Horned Frogs victory.
His junior season saw Allen convert to wide receiver, but he caught just one pass for eight yards in a win over Iowa State.
The small sample size in college may not jump off the page, but his high school stats will. As a senior at Temple High School, Allen totaled 2,175 yards and 24 touchdowns through the air and ran for another 941 yards and nine scores. He managed those stats in just nine games.
His arrival immediately makes the Scarlet Knights' quarterback battle much more interesting.
To this point, the competition has mostly been a two-man affair, with last year's starter Chris Laviano and backup Hayden Rettig seemingly battling it out. And while Laviano has flashed some running ability, neither would be classified as a dual-threat quarterback. The same goes for fellow incumbent scholarship quarterbacks Gio Rescigno and Mike Dare. Ash would likely prefer a running passer as the offense transitions to a power spread under new offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer.
And then there's incoming freshman QB Tylin Oden, who has certainly shown the passing and running ability the coaching staff is looking for. But some have wondered if he would be better off redshirting the upcoming season to bulk up and get a full year to learn the playbook and work with his new coaching staff and teammates. He's viewed as Rutgers' quarterback of the future, but maybe not the present.
Enter Allen, who comes to Rutgers after spending the past few years in TCU's spread offense.
Could his inexperience be a detriment? Of course. But the fact is Allen should have no trouble staking a claim for the starting job. At 6-3, 210, Allen is big enough to be a starting quarterback at the collegiate level, but not too big that it hinders his speed when he is asked to take off.
Of course, Laviano and Rettig have the benefit of being with the team since the new offensive scheme was implemented late last year. They worked with Mehringer and the coaching staff all winter, and got to get some practices in the spread in during the spring football season. They are more well-versed in this specific playbook than newcomer Allen.
But it's only June 8th, and we still have a lot of time before the team takes the field against Washington. Allen has nearly three months to learn the playbook with an offensive skeleton he's very familiar with. And since Allen managed to graduate TCU in just three years, I get the impression learning quickly isn't an issue for him.
Given his late entry into the fray coupled with Chris Ash's football worldview, I sincerely doubt Allen has been anointed the starter three months out. But he will have a chance to prove himself this summer as he goes toe-to-toe with Laviano, Rettig, and the rest of the signal callers vying for the Scarlet Knights' starting job.