The 2017 Rutgers Football season is about end and there will be no bowl season insight. Despite an embarrassing 41-0 defeat against Indiana, Rutgers has accomplished some positive milestones this season with multiple B1G wins and an improved record. Rutgers takes on #21 Michigan State this Saturday and can send the seniors out on a high note with a win to improve their record to 5-7. This is also a perfect time to evaluate the younger players for 2018, making it a good time to switch QB’s. Here are three reasons as to why true freshman Johnathan Lewis should be the starter this Saturday.
1.) Real Game Experience
Freshmen Johnathan Lewis only made a few appearances during the 2017 season. His best game was against Morgan State, where he put on a clinic with 58 rushing yards with 4 rushing touchdowns. Since then, Lewis has been used seldomly on the field since injuring his ankle against Ohio State. A lot of his playing time this season has been in the wildcat formation, rushing for minimal yardage. Lewis needs to get his feet wet more under center running the offense and with throwing the football, instead of just QB draws. During his senior season at St. Peter’s, Lewis was named 1st Team All-State, 1st All-Metro, and an Elite 11 Finalist. The kid can sling the ball and he should get an opportunity to showcase his arm rather than his legs.
2.) The Other QB’s Have Struggled
Let’s take a moment of honest for second. Rutgers’ pass offense have not been pretty for the last three seasons. In 2017, things did not get better with the QB play. The Rutgers pass offense is ranked 125th out of 130 teams in FBS, only averaging 117.2 yards through the air per game. Some may say it’s due the run heavy play calling by first year offensive coordinator Jerry Kill, but the stats show there is more to the story. Starting quarterback Giovanni Rescigno has completed less than 50% of his passes while previous starter Kyle Bolin didn’t do much better, completing right under 55% of his pass attempts. Now that the chance of going to a bowl game is out of reach, why not play the future QB for Rutgers? There’s no B1G championship on the line and there’s nothing to lose at this current juncture.
3.) Home State Kid
“Actions speak louder than words” is an old saying that fits Johnathan Lewis’ narrative for Rutgers. According to 247Sports, Lewis received multiple power five offers, including Iowa, Georgia, Wake Forest and Boston College, as well as Temple. Despite the tempting offers, he chose to stay in New Jersey to play for his home state. Even when former offensive coordinator Drew Meringher, who was his lead recruiter, left for the University of Texas, Lewis kept his word and stayed committed to the Scarlet Knights. His actions displayed honor and integrity as a player and person. It’s a rare quality to see in recruiting circles these days, especially when NJ talent flocks to out of state Big Ten schools like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Penn State. It would send a positive message to recruits and with the strong character Lewis has, he is the type of player that you want to have as the leader of a football team. He’s young and will make mistakes on the field, but it’s better learn with game experience than holding a clipboard on the sidelines. With one game left before the offseason, it’s time to put in the true freshman and let the kid play.