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What a verbal pledge from QB Evan Simon means for Rutgers Football

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Pennsylvania Quarterback is the second member of 2020 class.

Rutgers v Washington State
Rutgers hasn’t had a great year from a quarterback since Nova in 2014.
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Rutgers is three and a half months from their 2019 season opener, but got news about their next recruiting class earlier this week. The Scarlet Knights secured a verbal commitment from quarterback Evan Simon, out of Manheim Central in Pennsylvania. The second member of the 2020 recruiting class, he announced on Monday via twitter.

The Manheim, PA product holds offers from five other Power Five schools already per247sports: Colorado, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and West Virginia. Fellow Big Ten schools Wisconsin, Maryland, and Penn State have also shown interest. At 6’2” and 200 pounds, Simon is a 3.5 star prospect with a year to play, the 5th best overall in the State of Pennsylvania for the 2020 class according to the 247 composite which includes all major recruiting services.

I like the pickup first off because Rutgers obviously needs to do better securing more talent from Eastern Pennsylvania. Manheim, located near Lancaster, is about two hours from Piscataway and during the program’s solid 10 year run from 2005-2014, it wasn’t just Florida that made the difference, but also Pennsylvania. If the team wants to claw their way back to the middle of the Big Ten pack, securing players from a three hour radius around campus is critical.

Simon joins two-way standout quarterback Sofian Massoud, out of Cardinal Hayes in the Bronx, as the first two verbal commits of the 2020 recruiting class. Massoud is athletic enough to play another position if it helps him get on the field sooner. Rutgers was willing to accept commits from two quarterbacks in a class for the third straight year because the quarterback depth chart right now is in flux as it has been seemingly every year for a long time. The Knights did recently add graduate transfer McLane Carter however to push Art Sitkowski, though.

As a quarterback, the first thing you notice is how the ball takes off like a lot fighter jet out of Simon’s hand. The velocity and altitude seem greater than it would appear from the ease of his release and come with at times pinpoint accuracy. When you hear a QB could hit a quarter (as in one of those round things worth 25 cents) from 50 yards, this is what the ball looks like. There are plenty of plays where receivers at least 40 yards downfield are hit in stride. He looks like the most natural thrower to come to the banks as a freshman since Chas Dodd at least, maybe even Tom Savage.

The biggest reason for the accuracy is that Simon has excellent feet in the pocket, a trait made famous by legendary West Coast offense innovator, Bill Walsh. This keeps Evan on balance and in a well run timing offense, the footwork helps the quarterback’s timing on a variety of routes. In addition, the good balance contributes to excellent pocket presence and he shows an ability to extend play both by running or just buying extra time outside the tackle box.

Listed by some sources as tall as 6’3”, Simon has enough size to handle the rigors of the Big Ten. This is important because one area he might need to improve is getting rid of the ball for an incompletion when needed earlier before taking a hit. He’s a smooth ball carrier, but not ridiculously fast or powerful like a Gio Rescigno, so probably not an ideal fit for an option run offense. Since Evan has some ability to throw without setting his feet, that can contribute to a few big plays, but he needs to ensure it does not become a habit. Lastly, when plays break down he does not always lead his receiver to green space, which could result in underthrows or interceptions from fast defensive backs. He also doesn’t have too many back shoulder throw highlights, but that seems to be because his arm strength throws people open and therefore less placement or other 50/50 balls are required.

Simon is at worst a three-star prospect who will add depth to the quarterback room in his career with a floor probably similar to Chris Laviano. He most likely will be able to contribute at quarterback by his third season, the normal trajectory for most players, but there’s an outside chance he could start at some point even in his first year with some level of success like Gary Nova did, though I think Simon throws a better ball at the high school level. The best case scenario is that Simon is the quarterback Rutgers has searched for forever and torches the record books, he may have that high a ceiling.

Here are some of Simon’s highlights:

Welcome to the banks, Evan!