College Football teams can have up to 85 players on scholarship including up to 25 per recruiting class. The 25 is rarely a problem because early enrollees can count toward the previous fall or following fall group. The 85 total is often where creativity is required because with a redshirt year, for there could be up to 25 per year x 5 years of possible players that needs to be whittled down. (Note the Big Ten officially only guarantees scholarships for four years so it’s slightly less) With Rutgers signing more players than fans expected on Wednesday, they are close enough to 85 to warrant a review.
Chris Ash mentioned during his press conference that for “this cycle”, Rutgers had 24 available scholarship slots after the team used one of the 25 allowed to add linebacker Nihym Anderson this fall. With 16 players signed today, plus Drew Singleton and likely Johnny Langan, subtract 18 from the 24, leaving six. After that in the words of former President George W. Bush describing Al Gore’s calculations, it’s “fuzzy math” as to whether if RU does add six more, they end up being over the 85 total limit.
So what do we know?
For the purposes of this exercise I am including the four players still on the team currently suspended for the credit card investigation, though it’s possible they could elect to transfer or no longer be eligible for scholarships. Also I am including 2019 5th year seniors, even though the Big Ten only guarantees scholarships for four years. Those players may be on another financial aid or grant award by the time fall rolls around. Incoming recruits who signed a NLI are included. (see the report card)
Quarterbacks: 3 (Art Sitkowski, Johnny Langan, Cole Snyder)
Zamar Wise would be the 4th. Cooper Heisey committed as a preferred walk-on, I don’t believe he is on scholarship. Langan arrives from Boston College and it’s doubtful he would come to a school without a scholarship waiting for him.
Running Backs: 6 (Raheem Blackshear, Isaih Pacheco, Charles Snorweah, Elijah Barnwell, Kay’Ron Adams, Aaron Young)
I’m moving Barnwell back to running back from linebacker as Pacheco is the only other real inside runner. Snorweah still has one year of eligibility remaining, but will be a 5th year senior. Fullback Max Anthony I do not believe is on scholarship, but if he is at this point the number bumps up.
Wide receivers: 12 (Bo Melton, Shameen Jones, Eddie Lewis, Tyler Hayek, Hunter Hayek, Everett Wormley, Mo Jabbie, Zihir Lacewell, Paul Woods, Jalen Jordan, Isaiah Washington)
Jordan may end up at tight end but was a WR in 2018. None of the preferred walk-ons likely have earned scholarships, except for Cole Murphy who serves as the team’s holder.
Tight Ends: 4 (Travis Vokolek, Daevon Robinson, Johnathan Lewis, Nakia Griffin-Stewart)
This group is set even though Robinson could move to DE (unlikely now), Lewis may be needed at QB depending on how things shake out in February, and Griffin-Stewart plays a lot of fullback/h-back. Griffin-Stewart is a 5th year senior.
Offensive Linemen: 17 (Mike Lonsdorf, Kamaal Seymour, Sam Vretman, Jonah Jackson, Michael Maietti, Raiqwon O’Neal, Micah Clark, Zach Venesky, Nick Krimin, Sam Howson, Owen Bowles, Jamaal Beaty, Reggie Sutton, Matt Rosso, C.J. Hanson, Anton Oskarsson, Omari Cooper)
Wowsers. The offensive line has a lot of three-star recruits and all positions other than maybe right guard could be contested this spring and summer training camp. Jackson, Venesky, and Seymour are the only 5th year seniors. A few players need to continue to separate from the pack, but offensive lineman usually improve steadily throughout their careers.
Offense total: 42
Defensive Linemen: 14 (Julius Turner, Willington Previlon, Elorm Lumor, Mike Tverdov, Tijaun Mason, C.J. Onyechi, Brandon Bordner, Manny Taylor, Jaohne Duggan, Jamree Kromah, Matt Thomas, Robin Jutwreten, Devin Baldwin, Malachi Burby)
Manny Taylor and Will Previlon are the only 5th year seniors. C.J. Onyechi is currently suspended. Baldwin could end up as a tight end or fullback in the future.
Linebackers: 12 (Tyreek Maddox-Williams, Olakunle Fatukasi, Tyshon Fogg, Rashawn Battle, Deion Jennings, Nihym Anderson, Malik Dixon, Drew Singleton, Zukudo Igwenagu, Juwan Mitchell, Mohamed Toure, Chris Conti)
Drew Singleton may not be eligible, but surely on scholarship. Malik Dixon is currently suspended. Igwenagu may end up at safety, but for now is being counted as a linebacker as is Jennings who was forced to help out in 2018 at LB. Anderson transferred from Maryland so he probably has a scholarship.
Defensive Backs: 14 (Damon Hayes, Larry Stevens, Tim Barrow, Naijee Jones, Chris Izien, Avery Young, Kessawn Abraham, Zamir Mickens, Jarrett Paul, Kobe Marfo, Tre Avery, Donald Williams, Donovan Bunch, T.J. Robinson)
This is the most complicated position group. Larry Stevens reportedly received a scholarship as a sophomore despite arriving on the banks as a walk on. It’s possibly Jelani Garvin and/or Rani Abdulaziz also received one, but I did not count them here. Kobe Marfo and Naijee Jones remain suspended. A few previously mentioned players could also be DBs instead of their currently listed positions as well.
Specialists: 1 (Adam Korsak)
Though Justin Davidovicz and Billy Taylor both are very solid, neither arrived at Rutgers on scholarship. Especially considering Taylor notably unseated a three-year starting scholarship long-snapper in Alan Lucy. Since it is rare for kickers and punters to be on scholarship, Korsak is a bit of an exception, though he more than justified it in 2018. So currently the number here is just one, though no one would be surprised if two more were given to current members of the squad. Unlikely a recruit is offered.
Defense/specialists total: 41
Total sum: 83
Assuming there is no resolution in pending litigation, there are only two available scholarships for players at this point per the total 85. That number could be lower if one of the current walk-ons has actually earned a scholarship like starter Max Anthony or possible starter Rani Abdulaziz.
Ash indicated of those six potential spots in the 2019 cycle, the team wants to add a defensive back, offensive lineman, defensive lineman, and a tight end. Of course if Rutgers uses all six or the four (DB, DL, OL, and TE) Ash mentioned and goes over 85, they may ask incoming freshman to grayshirt like Eddie Lewis did and Zamir Mickens was expected to last fall. Graduate transfers may also not count toward the number if they are technically not on scholarship, another reason their market is ultra-competitive these days.
One of those remaining spots presumably belongs to Zamar Wise or another quarterback even though Ash did not mention quarterback as one of the top four remaining needs. Rumors about a potential transfer like Corey Bolds is also intriguing at this point, perhaps he is that defensive lineman. With so much activity Wednesday, Rutgers may prefer not adding anyone Thursday or Friday.
The lack of 5th year and true seniors in 2019 means the Scarlet Knights barring attrition could be in for a more serious numbers crunch a year from now. That seems to be true almost every year, but players transfer, may be dismissed, or unfortunately end up with career ending injuries to reduce that number. Just a year ago Mickens was planning to grayshirt (do a POST grad year), but ended up on the banks for fall camp due to depth issues for those reasons. If the coaching staff turns over significantly, that also can result in a lot of defections.
This was a tricky exercise. If my counts are wrong, please provide some more intelligence in the comments below.