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Rutgers young quarterbacks will have chance to step up in spring

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Both Evan Simon and Cole Snyder will have a chance at an extended role in spring ball.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Gleeson spoke to the media back in February and insisted that their would be no quarterback controversy begun during the bal. He said that Noah Vedral would be the quarterback heading into spring practices.

This could have led to the decision made by Artur Sitowski to enter the transfer portal — and this time, it looks as though he will go through with it.

What this means is that the Scarlet Knights will have a chance to get a look at some of their younger talent at the quarterback position. Freshman Evan Simon did not see any action during the 2020 season while sophomore Cole Snyder came in at holder for one snap against Ohio State. These are two quarterbacks that are unproven but have potential to make an impact next season.

“They’re both very talented quarterbacks,” Vedral said on Simon and Snyder on Wednesday. “Both of them are going to be competing for the experience and the reps this spring. It’s fun for me because I guess I’m the old guy. It kind of sneaks up on you. It’s going to be really fun to help them and watch them develop. This is a big spring for the both of them. Both of them are smart, both of them have great arms. It’ll be a fun spring for them and for me who will get to compete with them and challenge them and get them up to speed.”

It is important for the younger quarterbacks to feel comfortable heading into the 2021 season. Vedral is a quarterback who likes to use his legs and this could lead to some injuries, which we saw in 2020. Sitkowski was able to come in relief of Vedral, and make some starts when needed, and play productive football. This is a luxury the Scarlet Knights do not have this season so it is up to Simon and Snyder to get themselves prepared.

As a freshman, Snyder appeared in two games. He went 3-for-3 for 35 yards against Penn State. He made his collegiate debut a month earlier with one snap against Maryland. Spring ball will be one of the first times that we will get to see what the next generation of quarterbacks can do.

“I think the quarterback room is in a good place,” Greg Schiano said earlier in the week. “There’s a good chemistry in there. Coach Gleeson, like I am, is very excited about watching Evan, Cole, Johnny, Austin, and all those guys develop. Certainly with Noah now being in the system for a year, going out and having a chance to work through things again. We continue to grow the offense.”

“How do we maximize our quarterback play? Part of that is through spring football.”

All quarterbacks will have a chance to work with different skill position players, led by Bo Melton on the outside. The wide receiver is another veteran player who speaks highly of the young quarterbacks.

“Expect two hard workers,” Melton said. “I’ve been around them for two years now and just seeing the way they work and seeing the way they put in the effort to get the extra throws extra practice, it’s just a testament to their work ethic. I really want to see how they evolve and how they step up into this new spot that they are put in. They should be rally good.”

Melton will return in 2021 as the biggest playmaker for the Scarlet Knights. He finished with 47 catches for 638 yards and six touchdowns during Rutgers’ 3-6 campaign in 2020. Along with Aron Cruickshank and Joshua Youngblood, the Scarlet Knights expect to have some playmakers on the outside and in the return game.

“They were a big part of our winter seven-on-seven stuff, even the three or four young receivers we have,” Vedral said. “Even both of those guys (Melton and Cruickshank) have made big strides in nailing down the details like route depth, seeing what releases we want to use against what coverage, and coverage recognition. We’re making big strides there and our receivers who are returning are a big part of that.”

Gleeson and wide receivers’ coach Tiquan Underwood have helped take this offense tremendously.

In 2019, the Scarlet Knights were a putrid offense averaging 273.1 yards per contest. That number shot up to 339.1 per game along with 26.7 points — and this was against an All-Big Ten schedule with a limited amount of time to prepare.

“I think the best thing he does for us is take a complex scheme and break it down into their parts maybe by position or by decision making or by job then teach it to you in those bits to build it back up to build an entire concept,” Vedral said of Gleeson. “He does a really great job at breaking it down and making it easy for everyone to grasp. As you get the bits and pieces, we add the details in as we go.”

This is not to say that Rutgers will come out and have the best offense in the nation next season but they will continue to improve. The coaching staff now has proper time to work with their groups and make any necessary changes or adjustments.

Most importantly, the players and coaches can continue to build their relationships.

“Coach Underwood is the best,” Melton said. “He’s my favorite wide receivers’ coach ever. He brings the energy everyday and perfects everything that we do like technique wise, our craft, and our willing to outwork a lot of people. We are family in that room and really we’re family in our culture. He sacrifices a lot for us so we sacrifice a lot for him on the field.”

When it is all said and done, we could be looking at a Rutgers’ team that was better than last year. This is because of the returning players, the coaching staff, and potentially having fans back in the building.