To say Rutgers fans are excited about the arrival of freshman quarterback Johnathan Lewis would be quite the understatement. The dual threat signal caller and 3-star recruit has been compared often to former Ohio State QB Cardale Jones. Lewis has similar size and arm strength as Jones, as well as the ability to pick up yards on the ground.
At 6’3” and 225 pounds, Lewis certainly looks ready to compete as a freshman. Perhaps the most encouraging thing about him so far is his work ethic and competitive nature at such a young age. While he told NJ Advance Media’s Keith Sargeant shortly after national signing day that his one goal was to win the starting job at Rutgers, Lewis isn’t coming in expecting the role to be handed over to him.
In fact, the addition of Louisville grad transfer Kyle Bolin certainly ramps up the competition at the position, something that is a major positive for a program that struggled mightily on offense last season and had a lack of depth at quarterback. Recently, Bolin held a personal workout with former signal caller Tony Racioppi and drew rave reviews from the respected quarterback trainer.
In addition, don’t expect incumbent starter Gio Rescigno to concede the position easily to either Bolin or Lewis during training camp, which is expected to begin in about 10 days or so.
As for Lewis, he seems to be embracing the challenge, telling NJ Advance Media’s Todderick Hunt back in May in this interview that “it’s always great to have healthy competition”. No matter who wins the job, there is no question that new offensive coordinator Jerry Kill has legitimate options to choose from. Here is what Kill told me in this interview back in February specifically about Lewis:
“I’m very excited, we need a dynamic player at that position. We need a dual threat quarterback in what we are trying to do. The learning curve is going to be important, in terms of how fast he can learn and how fast we can get him going. That’s a hard position for a freshman. It’s not going to be easy, because of the grind of college football, but I think Johnathan is fired up about coming and working to get a job. We are certainly excited about him.”
Lewis appears to be doing all he can to be ready for training camp and his father posted this video of him working out recently in the Rutgers practice bubble.
His natural throwing ability and cannon of an arm was on full display. Watching Lewis throw such a high arcing ball down the field 30 or so yards in an almost effortless manner is impressive.
Here is another video posted Saturday afternoon by Johnathan's father.
Here is another recent video of Lewis working with his own trainer, Madei Williams, the former Syracuse quarterback, on his footwork. You can watch Williams go first and giving instruction, followed by Lewis demonstrating his foot speed and proper form in throwing immediately out of the drill.
Regardless of who head coach Chris Ash and offensive coordinator Jerry Kill ultimately choose to start at quarterback for the season opener, there should be no doubt that Rutgers is far better stocked at the most important position on the team. If Bolin or Rescigno do win the job, it will give Lewis time to continue to acclimate to the college game. It’s a long season and whoever does win the job against Washington on September 1st, it wouldn’t be a shock to eventually see any of the three able armed quarterbacks at some point during the 2017 campaign. Even if Lewis only plays the role of understudy this season, it’s abundantly clear that his future is very bright at Rutgers. He has the physical tools and talent to be the starting quarterback for multiple seasons and his work ethic and maturity give confidence that it’s only a matter of time before Lewis is the leader on the field that fans hope that he can be.