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Initial takeaways from 2020 roster for Rutgers football

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The long awaited list of names has been published. We break it down here.

Maryland v Rutgers
Bordner moved to offense with more defections on the line.
Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

As promised by Greg Schiano, Rutgers released the 2020 roster on Monday. The depth chart is expected next week. Below is the updated scholarship players and key walk-ons by position group compared to the 2019 season finale, followed by some immediate reactions. For the most part, there are no new reasons to panic and one more reason for optimism.

NOTE: All players who exhausted their eligibility after the 2019 season have been removed. With the NCAA approving a blanket waiver for player eligibility in 2020, the expectation is that all players will begin 2021 with the same number of years remaining as they retain now.

Quarterback

New faces: Evan Simon (Fr.), Noah Vedral (grad transfer - Nebraska)

Still here: Art Sitkowski, Johnny Langan, Cole Snyder, Austin Albericci

The Skinny: With Peyton Powell at DB, the rest of the quarterback room is full as expected including Johnny Langan. So they have bodies, can someone emerge as a solid starter? Greg Schiano confirmed on a call on Monday after the roster was released that no decision has been made on the starter. For more on Schiano’s comments on quarterback, click here.

The Departed: none

Running Backs

New faces: Kyle Monangai (Fr.)

Still here: Isaih Pacheco, Aaron Young, Kay’Ron Adams, Aslan Pugh

The Departed: Raheem Blackshear (transfer - Virginia Tech), Elijah Barnwell (transfer - Maine)

The Skinny: Running back is on the leaner side, but has talent. Walk-ons Jamier Wright-Collins, Nyjon Freeman, and Piotr Partyla are listed here and could see action even as true freshmen with all boasting more upside than typical walk-ons. Jessie Parson III is listed as a wide receiver and was previously expected to blueshirt.

Tight Ends

New faces: Victor Konopka (Fr.), Jovani Haskins (grad transfer - West Virginia), Tahjay Moore (Fr.)

Still here: Johnathan Lewis, Matt Alaimo, Cooper Heisey, Brandon Myers

The Departed: none

The Skinny: After being down to just one scholarship player at times in 2019, this group has everyone back plus a few reinforcements. The usage of the fullback position name does not appear, all are considered tight ends.

Wide Receiver

New faces: Aron Cruickshank (transfer - Wisconsin), Robert Longerbeam (Fr.), Ahmirr Robinson (Fr.), Jessie Parson III (Fr.),

Still here: Bo Melton, Isaiah Washington, Paul Woods, Shameen Jones, Monterio Hunt, Christian Dremel, Stanley King

Opt-out: Everett Wormley

The Departed: Mo Jabbie (grad transfer - Albany), Daevon Robinson (transfer - Robert Morris), Hunter Hayek (transfer - Stony Brook), Eddie Lewis (transfer - Garden City CC), Jalen Jordan (transfer - Maine), Tyler Hayek (TBD)

The Skinny: The losses were already known for the most part, but the building blocks of a revitalized corps of pass catchers remain intact. From a numbers standpoint, they were overallocated with scholarships at WR and this is a step in the right direction while still maintaining most (though not all) of the higher upside players on the team.

Offensive Line

New faces: Tunde Fatukasi (Fr.), Cedrice Paillant (JUCO transfer), Bryan Felter (Fr.), Isaiah Wright (Fr.),

Still here: Raiqwon O’Neal, Nick Krimin, Reggie Sutton, CJ Hanson, Omari Cooper, Matt Rosso, Sam Vretman, Brendan Bordner,

Opt-out: Mike Lonsdorf

The Departed: Mike Maietti (grad transfer - Missouri), Sam Howson (grad transfer - LIU), Jim Onulak (grad transfer - LIU), Jamaal Beaty (grad transfer - TBD), Owen Bowles (TBD), Anton Oskarsson (TBD)

The Skinny: The biggest loss is Covid opt-out Lonsdorf who was a starter at tackle and guard at times in his career. Bowles who seemed to have a chance for the center job plus Anton Oskarrson are also absent. Marquis Morris, a transfer from William & Mary is not listed. To offset all the departures, Bordner came over from defense. From a numbers standpoint, this is the thinnest Rutgers has been in a while which means the players that are here really need to show improvement.

Defensive Line

New faces: Ireland Burke (transfer - Boston College), Malik Barrow (grad transfer - UCF), Michael Dwumfour (grad transfer - Michigan), Wesley Bailey (Fr.), Troy Rainey (Fr.), Kamar Missouri (Fr.), Mayan Ahanotu (transfer - Minnesota), Aaron Lewis (Fr. transfer - Michigan), Shawn Collins (Fr.), Rene Konga (Fr.)

Still here: Mike Tverdov, Julius Turner, Tijaun Mason, Robin Jutwreten, Jamree Kromah, Devin Baldwin, CJ Onyechi, Elorm Lumor, Brian Ugwu,

Opt-out: Matt Thomas

The Departed: Malachi Burby (transfer - Rhode Island), Freddie Recio (grad transfer - TBD), Jaohne Duggan (grad transfer - TBD), Micah Clark (TBD)

The Skinny: The team’s leading pass rusher for the last two years, Elorm Lumor is listed on the roster after previously to have been believed to have foregone his final year of eligibility. When players declare for the NFL draft officially and sign with an agent they are not allowed to return to school. Schiano stated a waiver was granted during this unique year, following the precedent set with Arizona State punter Michael Turk going through the same process. Otherwise health and eligibility on all the transfers is the biggest question for a group that got much deeper this off-season.

Linebacker

New faces: Tyreem Powell (Fr.)

Still here: Tyshon Fogg, Olaunkle Fatukasi, Tyreek Maddox-Williams, Rashawn Battle, Drew Singleton, Deion Jennings, Chris Conti, Mohamed Toure, Zukudo Igwenagu, Jonathan Pimentel

The Departed: Chike Nwankwo (transfer - Abilene Christian), Jack Del Rio (Fr. summer enrollee entered transfer portal), Nihym Anderson (TBD)

The Skinny: The entire two-deep from 2019 returns. Pimentel moves over from offense. The bigger questions come in 2021.

Defensive Backs

New faces: Brendon White (grad transfer - Ohio State), Malachi Melton (Fr.), Elijuwan Mack (Fr.), Peyton Powell (transfer - Baylor), Chris Long (Fr.)

Still here: Avery Young, Christian Izien, Tre Avery, Kessawn Abraham, Naijee Jones, Darius Gooden, Larry Stevens, Rani Abdulaziz

The Departed: TJ Robinson (transfer - USF), Jarrett Paul (transfer - TBD), Tim Barrow (transfer - TBD), Donald Williams (TBD)

The Skinny: It had been previously reported that Jarrett Paul (Oct 1) and Tim Barrow (Aug 2), who got major snaps at safety in years past, entered the transfer portal. Donald Williams who got some time last year with the potential to get snaps is not listed. The team will absolutely need true freshmen or walk-ons to play at either corner or safety even with a shortened schedule. It’s also worth noting that Peyton Powell who was thought to be an option at quarterback or wide receiver is listed as a DB.

Specialists

New faces: None yet

Still here: Adam Korsak, Justin Davidovicz, Billy Taylor, Zach Feagles, Guy Fava

The Skinny: The awesome depth Rutgers has on special teams remains intact as Starters Davidovicz, Korsak, and Taylor are all listed plus experienced backups Feagles and Fava. At long snapper, Brendan Shank and Matt Sportelli remain as emergency options which is better than most FBS teams have on their squads.

NOTE: a number of preferred walk-ons could be contributors during their careers, but I did not include them all above. The 2021 recruiting class cannot put pen to paper (or fax) as a binding commitment until December 17 so I did not include those either.

Updated thoughts

The 2020 season can’t be more of a roller coaster than the calendar year has been for us, can it?

  1. Opt outs. Wormley, Lonsdorf, and Thomas are the only scholarship opt-outs Schiano mentioned.
  2. All the pairs of brothers that RU is counting on appear active including the Meltons, Fatukasis, and Youngs. They could potentially make up as many as six players on the two-deep expected to be released next week. The Hayek twins are not listed, though we already knew former starting slot receiver Hunter had transferred.
  3. Position changes mostly include linebackers now being listed at defensive line which is not a big deal other other than maybe indicating Rutgers plans to call their defense a 4-3, rather than a 3-4. That hasn’t been clarified. Others of note include Brendan Bordner being listed at offensive line, who had started to show promise at defensive tackle late last year.

Up next

Transfer eligibility updates could be clearer before the 2020 season opener against Michigan State on October 24, though Schiano elected not to comment more today. He instead reiterated the depth chart is expected in a week which will provide additional clarification.

Note: It was announced on Monday that the season opener at Michigan State will air on BTN at noon ET on 10/24.