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Rutgers Football: Greg Schiano needs to nail down starting QB during Spring

The Scarlet Knights should focus on one quarterback this season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 26 Rutgers at Maryland Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The quarterback position — the most important on the field and one that Rutgers has struggled with over the years.

Last season, the Scarlet Knights jogged out three different quarterbacks to take the first three snaps of the season. Quarterbacks is used loosely considering Johnny Langan was one of them. Regardless, this is not a recipe for success and it began early in the offseason.

From Spring to summer to Big Ten Media Day, head coach Greg Schiano did not nail down a starting quarterback. He referenced the ongoing competition at length during different points of the offseason and ultimately did not come to a decision. The early injury of Noah Vedral led Evan Simon under center for significant reps. Gavin Wimsatt also dealt with injuries over the course of the season.

Inconsistency played a role in all three quarterbacks. The play-calling was poor and Sean Gleeson was let go. Over the last four games of the season, Rutgers handed the keys to Wimsatt. He finished with 757 passing yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions in eight appearances in 2022.

It seems as though Wimsatt will take over as the full-time starter in 2023 but with Rutgers, nothing seems to be set in stone.

“I’m not gonna talk much depth at all,” Schiano said following the first day of Spring practices. “Offensively, we weren’t very good so we’re going to figure out how to get better by competing and see who claims the job.”

There were many factors involved with the lack of success under center last season. Injuries, inconsistency, play-calling — they have been mentioned before and we’ll mention again. The offensive line was shaky while the depth at wide receiver was thin. The list goes on and on.

One thing is for sure though. It does not help when players do not know the depth chart coming into the season. Especially at quarterback where it is all about rhythm and repetition.

“The depth when we took over was rough,” Schiano said. “I think we have more quality depth. We’re still young on the offensive line so there’s a lot of young guys that are in that depth. I think we have some upperclass leaders that will do just that, that will lead that group.”

If Wimsatt is handed the starting job, it is one that he can man for three years if all goes right. This brings the consistency and carryover that the program has been looking for. As a highly-touted recruit, Wimsatt entered Rutgers at the end of 2021 at the age of a high school senior. Last season, he remained a bit raw but it is now time for him to take the next step.

“I think Gavin is working really hard at it,” Rutgers offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca said. “He’s obviously a very talented young man. He’s got really good physical skills but I just love his work ethic and energy. I don’t have any basis to compare it to. It’s just where he’s at is where we started and he’s going a great job at it.”

Ciarrocca has a chance to develop another young, promising quarterback if Wimsatt is given the job.

“Gavin really came out and had a really good grasp about what he’s doing,” Schiano said. “He had some confidence. That’s encouraging for sure.”

Both head coach and offensive coordinator gave the typical answers during their first conferences of the Spring, which was to be expected. As the days go on and players show what they can do, the answers will become a bit more clear — or fans can only hope.

Of course, it is not to say that naming a quarterback early would have helped last season. That will remain unknown. What we do know is that Schiano has a chance to do the right thing and ease the topic of conversation y naming a starting quarterback in April and letting him prepare during the offseason.