Since the beginning of the 2017 season, the starting quarterback has been a topic of conversation throughout Rutgers Nation. The tone and volume of the conversation has risen as the season has progressed. Just this weekend, On the Banks had a round table style article with our contributors giving their take on who should start as quarterback for the remainder of the season. In his weekly kickoff press conference, Rutgers Head Coach Chris Ash was blunt about the quarterback situation:
“We opened the quarterback position up during the bye week. There has not been a final decision yet on whether Kyle will continue to start. Kyle's still in the mix... we have not made a final decision yet on who our starting quarterback will be.”
It also seems that last year’s starter, Gio Rescigno is also still well in the mix. Coach Ash had some nice words for him as well, stating that he was never “out” when he said, “Gio hasn't necessarily been playing. He's gotten some reps, but he's been in the mix since day one.”
Coach Ash stressed that it is a wide-open situation presently when he said, “All three of those guys got a lot of reps this last week, and all three of those guys will get some reps this week in practice. Obviously all three have different skillsets. So, again, like I mentioned, the number one thing that will probably be the deciding factor are the pieces around the quarterback and the support cast.”
In the conference, he never mentioned Johnathan Lewis by name, but it was obvious to all that most of the focus surrounding who would start was centered on the 6’4”, 240 pound freshman. When asked if, similar to the Illini’s ten true freshmen starters, whether Rutgers would begin a similar “youth movement,” Coach Ash was speaking in generalities about starting freshmen in any position, but everyone in the room heard Lewis’ name when he said:
“We're going to always do what's in the best interest of our program right now... If a true freshman is ready to play and he's the best player, we'll play him. We've got no problem doing that at all. But just to do it just to do it, he's got to be the best guy.”
When will the starter be named? Anytime between now and noon on Saturday, or so it seems. It also does not seem that any one of the three has an inside track, at least publicly.
“But there is no, hey, we've got to name him by Tuesday and just rush to it or name him by Thursday. Whenever we feel that somebody has shown us that they can be the spark and move our football team the way we need to consistently, then we'll make that decision. But we won't rush it. Obviously, we'll do it sometime before next Saturday. But we've got to make sure we're going about it the right way and we give everybody a fair opportunity, and we assess everything equally and take a look at who actually can be the spark that we need back there at quarterback.”
So, we will see if this week’s practice will bring into focus whether the staff feel Lewis is ready now, or whether a move to moving back to Gio Rescigno or Kyle Bolin is best for the program as we move into the remainder of the 2017 season.
More will be reported as it is released by the team. To see the entire press conference, click below: