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What to watch for in Scarlet-White Game

We preview the action and give a rundown of the schedule here.

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Gavin Wimsatt (Green Jersey) makes his home debut in front of Rutgers fans on Friday night.
Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Scarlet-White Game kicks off at 7:00 p.m. on Friday night at SHI Stadium and will be televised live on the Big Ten Network. There is plenty of intrigue after a productive spring for the program. We know offensive line coach Augie Hoffmann is in charge of the Scarlet team and defensive line coach Marquise Watson is at the helm of the White team. Rosters have not been announced yet. Here are some things to watch for.

How far along is Gavin Wimsatt?

The much anticipated home debut in front of fans for the heralded prospect will take place on Friday night. While Wimsatt saw action in four games last season, all were away from Piscataway. Greg Schiano has praised all three quarterbacks this spring including returning starter Noah Vedral and backup Evan Simon. Friday’s spring game will be the first time that fans will be able to make their own evaluations of where the QB battle stands as of now.

Schiano told Lance Glinn of 247 Sports on the College Football Daily Podcast this week that a decision on who will ultimately start the season opener against Boston College will not be made anytime soon. However, Wimsatt has a big opportunity to make a positive impression on the fans, his teammates, and most importantly, the coaches with a strong performance. How Vedral and Simon perform will be worth watching for as well. It certainly isn’t the end of the world if Wimsatt doesn’t show much separation in what is just one scrimmage, but it would absolutely raise the excitement level of fans if he plays well and showcases his development.

Who are the top playmakers?

With Bo Melton and Isiah Pacheco gone, there are a lot of opportunities for players to step up into larger roles next season on the offensive side of the ball. The spring game is the also the first chance for Rutgers fans to see two important transfers at wide receiver. Taj Harris (Syracuse) and Sean Ryan (West Virginia) are both proven big play receivers and raise the potential for Sean Gleeson’s offense this coming season. Can Shameen Jones, Josh Youngblood or Isaiah Washington make an impact? Aron Cruickshank is still recovering from shoulder surgery, but could a younger player take advantage of more opportunity because of it or could a veteran like Christian Dremel show significant development?

In the run game, who will be a factor on Friday night between Aaron Young, Kyle Monangai and Jamier Wright-Collins? Monangai will probably see limited action after returning from surgery after last season. It is a chance for Al-Shadee Salaam make a big first impression as well.

And let’s not forget about Johnny Football, who has become a regular playmaker after shifting to tight end last season. I’m sure he is raring to go on Friday night and misses hitting people, even though he’s on offense.

Overall, the biggest question is will the skill position players can make a positive impression and give hope the offense can make major strides next season?

New look Offensive line

Rutgers added four players through the transfer portal and they should get a lot of the action tonight. It will be the first chance to see Curtis Dunlap Jr. (Minnesota), Willie Tyler (Louisiana-Monroe), JD DiRenzo (Sacred Heart), and Mike Ciaffoni (Colorado State). They add size and experience to a group that needs to take a step forward next season. Reviews have been positive this spring with new position coach Augie Hoffman, but tonight will be their biggest test so far.

Lots to replace at linebacker

With veterans Olakunle Fatukasi, Tyshon Fogg, Tyreek Maddox-Williams and Drew Singleton gone, this position group will look very different next season. Tyreem Powell made an impact last season and has a chance to assume a leadership role. We know 4-star freshman Moses Walker suffered an injury and is unavailable as is Mo Toure, but another 4-star freshman Anthony Johnson will make his Rutgers debut tonight. Who else steps up will certainly be something to watch for in the spring game.

Kicking Showcase

Valentino Ambrosio has been a very respectable 21 of 27 for his career on field goal attempts and 45 of 47 on PATs. . Schiano has fully believed in him since he left the soccer team and became the starter in the middle of the 2020 season. The spring game usually leads to a couple of big spots for the kickers and it would be nice to see Ambrosio have a moment or two tonight. It’s also an opportunity for Guy Fava to make a positive impression, as well as Michael O’Connor.

Spring Awards

Schiano reinstated the end of spring camp awards last year and all three recipients ended up making an impact during the 2021 season.

Linebacker Tyreem Powell won the Douglas A. Smith Award given to most improved defensive player. He ended up playing in all 13 games, starting in three, finishing the season with 20 tackles, an interception, a pass breakup and a fumble recovery.

Offensive lineman Hollin Pierce won the Mark Mills Second Effort Award given to most improved player on offense. He went on to play in every game and start in 12 contests at right tackle and showed real promise after playing so much in his first season.

Robert Longerbeam won the Frank R. Burns award given to the player who exhibited exceptional mental and physical toughness. He played in all 13 games including one start and was seventh in the Big Ten with a team leading 10 pass breakups at cornerback. He also had 30 tackles and 2 forced fumbles.

Whoever wins the three individual spring awards tonight are players that should be considered to have a good chance of making an impact next season.

Fan turnout

I created a poll to get a pulse on what attendance might be for tonight’s Scarlet-White game and was a little surprised by the majority estimating a crowd between 5,000-9,999. I am hoping there is at least 10,000 fans at SHI Stadium and thought it was possible for the attendance to approach 15,000. Rutgers moved the spring game from Thursday to Friday night in hopes of allowing more fans to attend. It’s no secret the home attendance was not great at times last season and it would be disappointing if less there was a low turnout tonight.

Family Fun

If you are planning to attend tonight, tickets and parking are free. Here is a full list of activities that will be part of the Scarlet-White game experience.

Rutgers Football

The fun thing about this Rutgers spring game is it’s the first chance for fans to start dreaming of the possibilities for this team. There are so many position battles to watch for and a lot of opportunity for the younger players. This third season of Schiano 2.0 is critical and the roster is his now. Change is upon us and tonight is the first look for fans. Have fun watching and we’ll have full postgame analysis here at On the Banks.

Earlier this week, our latest podcast episode came out featuring Rutgers QB Noah Vedral. He spoke about the team’s progress this spring and a variety of topics as well. You can listen here: