This morning, NJ Advance Media’s Keith Sargeant reported confirmation of the spring practice schedule for Rutgers Football. Newly hired assistant coach Henry Baker tweeted out the schedule last night. The first practice takes place on Thursday, March 23rd, with the Spring Game scheduled for Saturday, April 22nd. It will be televised live on BTN at 5 p.m.
Things worth watching for include who establishes themselves as the leader in the competition for starting quarterback, the return of Janarion Grant and who will emerge behind him among a talented, but inexperienced receiving core, as well as how the new additions to Ash’s staff acclimate to the team.
Three new coaches will be on the field for the first time with the program. They include offensive coordinator Jerry Kill, running backs coach Lester Erb, and cornerbacks coach Henry Baker. Thankfully, offensive line coach A.J. Blazek will be on the field as well, as it was reported last week that he turned down the same position with his alma mater, Iowa.
It was also reported by Ryan Dunleavy of NJ Advance Media that the program has elevated defensive backs coach Bill Busch to co-defensive coordinator, which will pair him with Jay Niemann. Busch has been a defensive coordinator in the past at Northern Arizona and Utah State. His full bio can be read here.
Busch came to Rutgers with Ash from Ohio State and was integral in improving the pass defense last season. Ash has worked himself as a co-defensive coordinator in the past, including for the Buckeyes, so it’s likely it was his goal to establish a similar setup all along at Rutgers.
Winter workouts for the program have been underway since the spring semester began a little more than a month ago. The football team continues to market their offseason program through social media.
The second “St. Valentine’s Day”, which we covered here, took place last week and is considered the most strenuous workout of the year. With that day behind them, the players can begin to mentally prepare for a crucial spring practice period, the second in head coach Chris Ash’s tenure at Rutgers. A lot of work is needed after last season’s 2-10 campaign.
In April, Rutgers will also hold a coaches clinic midway through spring practice and will be headlined by former Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick.
Ash and Baker are also speaking at the Nike Clinic and wide receivers coach Jafar Williams and Blazek are speaking at the Glazier Clinic. Both events are being held today in Atlantic City. It’s great to see the staff getting this type of exposure.
Come see the Rutgers staff in AC Friday pic.twitter.com/ryKQrfY8BL— Rick Mantz (@rickmantz) February 23, 2017
In terms of the roster, it’s worth noting that last season’s leading receiver, Jawuan Harris, is currently starring in his second campaign for the Rutgers baseball team and will not participate in spring practice. He is off a to sizzling start, hitting a pair of home runs and helping the Scarlet Knights win 1 of 3 games last weekend against #17 Miami. They take on another ranked ACC opponent this weekend, starting this afternoon against #14 Virginia
As for the football team, here is the complete schedule for Spring Practice:
Practice 1: Thursday, March 23
Practice 2: Saturday, March 25
Practice 3: Tuesday, March 28
Practice 4: Thursday, March 30
Practice 5: Saturday, April 1
Practice 6: Tuesday, April 4
Practice 7: Thursday, April 6
Practice 8: Saturday, April 8
Practice 9: Tuesday, April 11
Practice 10: Thursday, April 13
Practice 11: Saturday, April 15
Practice 12: Tuesday, April 18
Practice 13: Thursday, April 20
Practice 14: Friday, April 21
Scarlet-White game: Saturday, April 22