The Rutgers Football season will kick off on Sunday, Sept. 3 at SHI Stadium against Northwestern. Leading up to the season opener, we will be taking a look at each position on the field for the Scarlet Knights.
The series continues with what could be a question mark on the outside — the wide receivers.
Position Coach: Dave Brock
Key Returners: Chris Long, Isaiah Washington
Key Losses: Aron Cruickshank, Sean Ryan, Shameen Jones, Joshua Youngblood
Key Newcomers: Naseim Brantley, Jaquae Jackson
What Went Well In 2022: Receivers moved onto next level
Is this a positive thing? It is for the program as a whole but it did not help the Scarlet Knights in 2022 and will not matter this year.
Rutgers has a history of sending players to the NFL. Greg Schiano has experience at the next level and knows what it takes to get players there. That is an area that Jaquae Jackson highlighted when he spoke on his move to Piscataway.
From last year’s team, both Aron Cruickshank (Chicago Bears) and Sean Ryan (Baltimore Ravens) are getting a chance in the NFL. Of course, Bo Melton was selected in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. He is now working to make an impression in Green Bay.
Rutgers struggled to push the ball down the field last season. It was one of the worst passing attacks in the nation, despite having some capable receivers on the outside. That is being shown by players getting a chance at the NFL level. The problem now is, there is a very raw and inexperienced receiver room for the Scarlet Knights for 2023.
Improvement Needed: Downfield attack
Rutgers averaged 153.9 passing yards per game last season, which was dead last in the Big Ten. The arrival of offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca and wide receivers coach Dave Brock should make a little difference.
Rutgers named Gavin Wimsatt the starting quarterback for 2023. As of now, he does not have many weapons to work with on the outside. Of course, this can be changed. Rutgers worked hard in the transfer portal to improve the room and have some intriguing young players that could get a chance.
This begins with Jaquae Jackson and Naseim Brantley. Both are experienced players that will be playing their biggest ball in the Big Ten this year. Three-star recruits Jesse Ofurie and Dylan Braithwaite enter the program this year but how big of an impact will they make as freshman?
Rashad Rochelle is an interesting piece. The sophomore has great speed and can make people miss in the open field. He had just one catch last year but carried the ball 27 times. With the depth in the running back room at full health, it seems unlikely that Rochelle will be featured in the backfield. He has a chance to take a step up as a wide receiver for a team that needs to improve down the field.
The Scarlet Knights will feature a quarterback this year with plenty of arm strength. If the offensive line holds up and there are some inspired play calls, Rutgers could hit some more big plays.
Chris Long, Isaiah Washington, some transfers, maybe a few newcomers. The Rutgers’ receiving core is going to be interesting this year. The bottom line is, how effective will the offensive coaching staff be?
Brock has experience in the NFL as well. Ciarrocca has handled offenses in the Big Ten. The personnel is there. Rutgers may have some talented pieces that can breakout but for now, they are very raw and inexperienced. There is some work to be done developing the receivers.
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