The annual transfer portal exodus process began a week early this year for Rutgers Football as quarterback Art Sitkowski, wide receiver / tight end Daevon Robinson, and defensive lineman Malachi Burby all entered their names into the portal. Some rumblings indicate this is partially a result of the news yesterday that Greg Schiano will no longer be a candidate for the head coaching vacancy at this time. The current players face uncertainty heading to the offseason as there are no indications who Chris Ash’s full-time replacement will be in 2020. Scarlet Nation was first to report the players’ decisions to enter the portal after hinting on their podcast yesterday.
The NCAA transfer portal is a relatively new phenomenon as of October 2018, so let’s recap how it works. Players no longer require permission from a coach or administrator to transfer from their current school. They also don’t need to restrict their transfers to schools outside their original conferences, for example current Scarlet Knight linebacker Drew Singleton who was at Michigan. Players don’t even necessarily have to have graduated to play the next season for their 5th years. Roughly three-fourths of the time or maybe more at this point, even undergraduate transfers are having their cases approved by the NCAA (i.e. Johnny Langan, Matt Alaimo), so that they may play right away at their new schools WITHOUT having to sit out a year or losing a season of eligibility.
To begin the process, all an athlete has to do at this point is enter his/her name in the online NCAA transfer portal and begin fielding offers. That does prevent them from returning to their original school, but the original school is now allowed to cancel the scholarships of any player who enters the transfer portal at the end of the semester in which they expressed their intent to transfer.
So for this situation with Rutgers Football, I would expect Sitkowski, Robinson, and Burby to feel about the market for their services as the Scarlet Knight coaching search. As mentioned above, all three players could return to Rutgers, though the school has the option not to renew their scholarships having tested the waters. The first order of business for any new coach will be to take stock of the existing roster and discuss plans with all current players. So how this plays out may or may not have a lot to do with who is hired and when.
Artur Sitkowski started 11 games as a freshman in 2018 then two more this season at quarterback. He was a four star recruit most recently at IMG Academy, but returned home to the Garden State (Old Bridge native) after decommitting from Miami (FL). Art led the nation in interceptions a year ago, but really looked good against Boston College this year, throwing for over 300 yards and appeared to have turned a corner. Sitkowski’s former high school teammate, wide receiver Jalen Jordan already entered the portal as well.
Daevon Robinson was a high three-star, borderline four star recruit from Shawnee High School. He received a ton of interest as an athlete with most schools viewing him as a defensive end. He came to RU partially for the opportunity to begin his career as a wide receiver. As a freshman in 2018 he was one of the more reliable players at getting open (at tight end), then became a starter in 2019 as a true sophomore. After failing to put up big numbers and the team’s injuries at tight end, Robinson moved back to that position where he has shared the bulk of the snaps with Matt Alaimo.
Also a three-star recruit, Malachi Burby is a true freshman defensive lineman who enrolled early in spring 2019 from Berlin, CT. He received early praise, but was not a factor as a freshman on game day. This was not unexpected as very seldom do linemen on either side of the ball make an impact.
More news on transfers in and out of the program, not mutually exclusive of the coaching search, will be covered in subsequent articles.