Rutgers Week continues and Thursday’s theme for B1G 2017 is “wildcard.” I couldn’t think of something specific to focus on that would be article-sized, so I thought it would be a good idea to update Big Ten fans, who care, of the various recent happenings around the world of Rutgers. Consider this a glimpse into the RU community... and my consciousness.
New QB Transfer
Rutgers just landed Louisville grad transfer, Kyle Bolin. This will make the 2017 Rutgers quarterback battle really interesting. Kyle Bolin will be immediately eligible to play and his experience tells me that he will be Rutgers’ early season (at least) starter. This does not mean I’ve lost faith in Rescigno, and Ash says he’s way improved, but Bolin isn’t some mediocre grad transfer QB who saw no real playing time where he was/wasn’t able to make a dent. Bolin saw playing time, and played well, but and ultimately was overshadowed by some guy named Lamar Jackson. Jackson’s QB takeover of the Cardinals does not diminish Bolin’s talent. Additionally, when interviewed by Rutgers247 he said, “When I stepped foot on campus it just felt like home...It’s a beautiful campus and the best place for me to spend my final season.” Rutgers fans grateful he chose Rutgers for his final season. Maybe you can give Rutgers a much needed spark at position of quarterback (a spark Rutgers has needed for... forever).
Rutgers Football alumni, and Super Bowl LI participants Mohamed Sanu (Atlanta Falcons) and Duron Harmon (New England Patriots) both came back to their Alma Mater to coach the Scarlet and White teams, respectively. It’s really a treat for the players, fans, and everyone involved when these established NFL players keep their Rutgers roots solidified even as the program struggles on the field. It’s maintaining relationships with loyal ambassadors to the Rutgers Football brand like Sanu, Harmon, and others including the McCourtey Twins (recently inducted into Rutgers’ Hall of Distinguished Alumni) and Logan Ryan (caught wearing his Rutgers gloves... more than once) that will help to keep the program’s head above the water at the very least as we try to get better. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get back to a level where we produce new NFL talent equally loyal to The Banks of the Old Raritan.
It’s also good to see these Schiano era players warmed up to Coach Ash. This will only mean positive things for Rutgers Football moving forward. I was worried that these former players wouldn’t associate as closely with the program with the complete loss of those who were around in their time, but their love of Rutgers is still going strong.
Eeek. I’ll sandwich this in the middle. If you haven’t heard already, the NCAA issued Rutgers a Notice of Allegations for seven rule violations in the Kyle Flood era (6 level II and 1 level III), and Rutgers responded with proposed self-imposed penalties which include:
A one-year period of probation to commence with the release of the Committee on Infractions decision on this matter, during which the University's Office of Athletic Compliance will be required to prepare reports on the progress of self-imposed sanctions and other penalties and present those reports to the President of the University and the Office of the Committee on Infractions;
A $5,000 fine payable to the NCAA
A reduction in the number of permissible, off-campus recruiting days by a total of 10: five days in the fall evaluation period and five days in the spring evaluation period during the 2017-18 academic year;
A limitation of 36 official visits (for high school seniors and transfer students) in football during the 2017-18 academic year, a reduction by four from the average number of visits used during the four most recent academic years and 26 fewer than permitted under NCAA legislation;
A probation on initiating telephone calls, contact via social media, and written correspondence with prospective student-athletes for a one-week period during the 2017-18 academic year.
A lot of people are under the notion that the NCAA will come down hard on Rutgers because we aren’t a successful program. "The NCAA was so mad at Kentucky they gave Cleveland State two more years of probation." — Jerry Tarkanian. Maybe, maybe. But I’m hopeful that this won’t happen and it will be something relatively small compared to the worst case scenario.
2018 Recruiting Class
Rutgers currently has two 2018 recruits and while it may not seem like a lot, at this early stage in the game it really doesn’t matter. I’m also more geared towards the slow and steady side of things with regards to things like recruiting which involve a lot research and commitment on both ends. For our first 2018 commit, Rutgers is keeping its Florida pipeline alive and kicking with defensive back Rachad Wildgoose Jr. and what an awesome name! Man that’s going to be fun to hear in the stadium, “Wildgoose on the tackle.” Wildgoose is currently only rated at 2 stars and only has a Rutgers offer, but he has a whole season left to prove even more of himself. The coaches clearly see something in him.
Our second recruit, Jarrett Paul, a 3-star cornerback, is locally made and committed after the Spring Game. This actually says a lot about what he sees in the program because the cooler, rainy atmosphere did not facilitate a mind-blowing and inspiring fan turn out (same goes for Kyle Bolin). So whatever Ash and Co. are selling, it seems to be working. Paul is 6’2”, 190 pounds, physical, and is “100% Rutgers.” He will be playing at Paramus Catholic for his senior year.
Eric LeGrand is an Inspiration
Onto more positive things. Eric LeGrand, simply put, is one of the most inspirational people on the planet. He is just such a motivational person. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Eric and you just can’t help but smile after interacting with him. What happened to him back in 2011 was tragic, but my goodness, to take something like that and turn it around into the goals he now holds is truly an inspiration. Three weeks ago, Eric won the WWE Warrior Award during the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. The Warrior Award is given to those who have "exhibited unwavering strength and perseverance, and who lives life with the courage and compassion that embodies the indomitable spirit of the Ultimate Warrior."
Like the NFL players mentioned above, with someone like Eric as an ambassador to the Rutgers Football program (and he truly is, he Tweets at and congratulates recruits all the time; and his annual Walk to Believe 5K is held at Rutgers) we never truly lose. I encourage you to look into his organization, http://www.teamlegrand.org/
On April 9th, Rutgers fans raised over $200,000 in 24 hours as part of “R B1G Build” campaign to pay for new facilities. Only $200,000, you say? Did I mention the part where prominent Rutgers boosters Jeff and Amy Towers as well as Ron and Joanna Garutti would each match up to $100,000? That means that in just 24 hours, Rutgers raised $400,000!!! This is amazing as Rutgers is not really a school which its alumni give back to (which is sad considering how many are rich). But anyway, we did it, and it shows that Rutgers fans and alums are finally entering a Big Ten mindset when it comes to school giving. If we want to win, then we need the facilities. If we want the facilities, then we need the funds. If we want the funds, then we need to be the source of it.
The brightest part about all of this is that it got Pat Hobbs, the greatest Athletic Director on the planet, on Twitter.
Anyway... that’s all I got! I hope you’re enjoying Rutgers Week so far! Just one day left.
B1G 2017: Rutgers Week
MONDAY | Cocktail Party Preview | Potluck I
TUESDAY | Personnel Files: Janarion Grant | Potluck II
WEDNESDAY | What to do when you visit Rutgers? Lots! | Potluck III
THURSDAY | Wildcard | Potluck IV
FRIDAY | Definitely some hate from someone(s). But Pride from Zuzu | Potluck V