The regular season in college football has come to a close, and following Championship Saturday, the transfer portal has finally opened. Despite bowl season looming, many players are already focused on finding new homes for next season, whether that be through the portal or the upcoming NFL Draft in April. A few Scarlet Knights have entered the portal (almost exclusively reserves), but several key players have announced plans to return for 2024.
Tyreem Powell was arguably Rutgers’ best defender before he suffered a hand injury vs Indiana that ended his season. The junior linebacker had 53 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 passes defended, and a forced fumble in just 8 games in 2023. There was thought he may go to the draft, but he put those rumors to rest when he announced he was returning for a final year on the banks. With this being Deion Jennings’ (and potentially Mohamed Toure’s) last season at Rutgers, getting Powell back was huge for the linebacker room.
Two offensive linemen also announced their intentions to return to Piscataway in 2024. Hollin Pierce and Bryan Felter will be back next year after making up the left side of Rutgers’ much-improved o-line this year. Both linemen received honorable mention all-conference status after stellar 2023 seasons. Pierce gave the Scarlet Knights consistency at left tackle that hasn’t been there in a long time and is truly a success story. A former walk-on who weighed over 400 pounds, he worked tirelessly to find his way onto the field and has become one of Rutgers’ most important players. Felter started the final 7 games this season at left guard, and the Bergen Catholic product will likely return to that position next fall.
Gavin Wimsatt’s favorite target, slot receiver Christian Dremel, broke the news on X this morning, confirming that he will return for a 6th college season. Before this season, Dremel had just 10 catches for 69 yards in his career, but 2023 was a breakout year for the Garden State native. He racked up 440 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns, leading the Scarlet Knights in both categories. He figures to factor into the same role next fall but could benefit from improved talent on the outside that Rutgers may look to bring in through the portal.
Finally, ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported this morning that defensive lineman Aaron Lewis will return in 2024 for a 5th season in New Jersey. He was the anchor of a great defensive line and finished with 48 tackles, 5 TFLs, and 3 sacks leading to being named an honorable mention all-Big Ten honoree. He’ll return to help solidify what should be a formidable defensive group once again next season.
Rutgers is still waiting on decisions from several other key players, most notably Kyle Monongai, Max Melton, and Mohamed Toure, but having a number of starters commit to returns in 2024 is an encouraging sign. For the most immediate updates on all things Rutgers Athletics, follow me on X @JSchocket.