It has been a busy week for the Rutgers football program. Offensive coordinator Jerry Kill announced his retirement on Tuesday, a national search for his replacement is underway, and Wednesday marked the first ever early signing period, with the program welcoming 18 members to its 2018 recruiting class. On Friday afternoon Kiy Hester, a veteran leader of the defense, announced his surprise departure from the program.
The strong safety made 19 starts for Rutgers spread over three seasons and is set to graduate in May, per his tweet. Obviously, Hester appears to be looking to move on as a graduate transfer and play his final season of eligibility somewhere else.
The Plainfield native and DePaul Catholic alumnus originally chose Miami (FL) out of high school, but soon transferred to Rutgers in 2014 under former head coach Kyle Flood.
This past season, Hester was tied for the team lead with 3 interceptions and returned two of them for touchdowns. He also had 31 tackles, but did miss some time during the season due to an injury. For his Rutgers career, Hester grabbed four interceptions and 119 tackles in 26 games.
Rising junior K.J. Gray benefitted from the time Hester missed last season and seems to be the leading candidate to start in place of him next season. Other players that could potentially move up the depth chart are converted receiver Jawuan Harris, as well as redshirt freshmen Edwin "Tank" Lopez and Najee Jones.
While losing Hester certainly hurts the experience and depth of the Rutgers secondary, it's a position group that has been recruited actively under Ash since his arrival. Credit Hester for playing hurt often throughout his career and being active in helping to recruit New Jersey prospects to stay home during his Rutgers career. Once his destination is known, we will post an update at that time.