Ahead of Friday’s season opener at High Point Solutions Stadium, Rutgers head coach Chris Ash dropped the first official depth chart for the upcoming season. This is the first semblance of a depth chart since the opening of spring practices, so there were some noteworthy changes.
Besides kicking duties, position battles like tight end and wide receiver are finally settled. A whopping 10 true freshmen are listed on the depth chart, while some upperclassmen surprisingly remain off it. Let’s take a look at the Rutgers depth chart as they gear up to face No. 7 Washington.
Juwuan Harris Not Listed
The biggest surprise looking at the depth chart is found when looking at the wide receiver position. Damon Mitchell, Janarion Grant and freshman phenom Bo Melton are listed as starters while fellow true freshmen Hunter Hayek and Everett Wormley back the trio up.
Redshirt Sophomore Jawuan Harris isn’t listed at all on the depth chart. Harris lead the Scarlet Knights in receptions (39) and yards (481) in 2016 so the fact that he isn’t listed is a massive surprise. The two-sport athlete spends his springs roving centerfield for the Scarlet Knights baseball team, so maybe in his time away he fell out of favor. It will be interesting to see if Harris can fight his way back into the offense as the season moves along.
Transfers Earn Starting Jobs
A trio of starting jobs on the offensive side of the ball were won by transfers. One of the more intriguing battles of this offseason was held at the quarterback position. A little over a week ago, that was settled when Ash named Kyle Bolin, a former Louisville standout, starter. Bolin looked good piloting the Cardinals offense before losing his job to Heisman winner Lamar Jackson.
If things don’t go as planned though, Giovanni Rescigno and true freshman Johnathan Lewis are listed as backups. Gus Edwards and Jerome Washington Jr., a pair of Miami transfers, also won jobs at running back and tight end respectively. Fifth-year graduate senior Damon Mitchell, an Arkansas product, will get the opportunity to start across from Janarion Grant. On the defensive side of the ball, former Michigan defensive back Ross Douglas will slide into the linebacker spot vacated by the injured Tyreek Maddox-Williams.
Out of a 2017 recruiting class that netted Chris Ash 25 recruits, ten of those are listed on the official depth chart. Star receiver Bo Melton is listed at one of the starting receiver position, while fellow four-star recruit Micah Clarke is a primary back up at tackle. Hunter Hayek and Everett Wormley will also see time at receiver as true freshman. On the defensive side of the ball, standouts Tyshon Fogg and Brendan DeVera are penciled in to see pivotal snaps in a linebacking core that’s already seen its share of injuries. Expect all of these freshmen to play a role on special teams this year as Chris Ash is making sure his young guns get the experience they need to develop.
We can see throughout the depth chart that this will be a completely different team this year. The blend of talented transfers and recruits leaves the Scarlet Knights with one of the better teams it’s had since entering the Big Ten. The competition in camp has been intense, everything leading up to Friday night. Rutgers will be tested, but it’s sure going to be fun watching the new offense, as well as the new players. Hold on tight Scarlet Knight fans, the season is here.
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