Rutgers football added a Big Ten caliber defensive end to the program on Thursday, as former 3-star recruit Mayan Ahanotu announced he was transferring from Minnesota to become a Scarlet Knight.
Rutgers defensive coordinator Robb Smith was Ahanotu’s primary recruiter when he served the same role at Minnesota previously. Although Smith departed during Ahanotu’s redshirt season in 2018, the Florida native played for defensive line coach Jim Panagos at Minnesota last season, who now also back at Rutgers. Although he played in just three games last season, making his first collegiate tackle against RU, Smith and Panagos obviously feel strongly of Ahanotu’s potential to develop into a solid contributor at Rutgers. He was named Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year for the Gophers in 2018 and was an Academic All-Big Ten selection in 2019, so he appears to be a hard working student-athlete.
Adding talent and depth along the defensive line is a major priority, so adding Ahanotu is an important pickup. The 6’4”, 255 pound lineman from Tampa, Florida was rated the 50th best strong side defensive end nationally 149th best prospect in Florida for the 2018 recruiting class per 247 Sports Composite rankings. He reportedly held almost three dozen offers, including Oklahoma, Mississippi State, Iowa State and Virginia Tech, as well as other Big Ten schools in Michigan State, Maryland, Illinois, Indiana and Rutgers.
His father, Chidi Ahanotu, was a defensive end at Cal before playing with five NFL teams over a 12 year pro career, mostly with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Ahanotu has three seasons of eligibility remaining, but would need an NCAA waiver to play next season.
Upgrading the roster is a must for a team that has gone just 3-21 the previous two seasons and head coach Greg Schiano is off to a strong start in his second stint rebuilding the program.
The former Big Ten recruiter of the year has had success convincing several players from the conference to transfer to Rutgers. Ahanotu joins former Wisconsin receiver Aron Cruickshank, former Michigan defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour and former Ohio State defensive back Brendon White, who played for Schiano with the Buckeyes. In addition, the current 2021 recruiting class for Rutgers that is ranked 14th nationally and 7th in the Big Ten per 247 Sports.