On Wednesday evening, Ryan Dunleavy of NJ Advance Media reported two important pieces of news for Rutgers football, ahead of Friday’s opener. Last season’s leading receiver, Jawuan Harris, was suspended for one game due to a violation of team rules. In addition, defensive end Kemoko Turay has been medically cleared to play on Friday.
There are a few takeaways on these updates, just about 48 hours from kickoff against #7/8 Washington. First off, the Harris suspension was likely planned for awhile and is a key reason why he was left off the two deep when the depth chart was released earlier this week. Second, while losing a playmaker against a top ten team is never ideal, Rutgers has other options at wide receiver. They include the return of Janarion Grant, as well as several intriguing newcomers in grad transfer Damon Mitchell and true freshmen Bo Melton, Everett Wormley, and Hunter Hayek. Sophomore Dacoven Bailey also made the two deep.
In addition, Rutgers will be utilizing the tight end position more so under new offensive coordinator Jerry Kill. There is legitimate hope that Miami transfer Jerome Washington can become an impact player in the pass game this season.
In terms of the health of Turay, we don’t know what the issue has been, but the fact that he is medically cleared to play Friday is significant. The gist is this, Turay is the best pass rushing threat on the roster and without him on the field, Rutgers would have a major void to fill. Hopefully, Turay is close to 100% and he is able to build on the strong offseason he has had this summer.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s unfortunate to not have Harris available on offense for this game, but this is also something that the staff has likely been preparing for during training camp. Harris hadn’t taken many reps with the first or second teams, per reports, so this isn’t a shock to the team. That’s another reason why there shouldn’t be any concern about this being a distraction for the players come Friday.
The good news is Harris should have a clean slate after the first game, as Ash told Dunleavy that "he'll be fine after that", referring to his one game suspension.
We are less than two days to the season finally kicking off!!!