It’s Gavin Wimsatt.
He’s #9. It was a trick. I’m sorry.
To a certain degree, it’s true though. If fan favorite Gavin Wimsatt and all his upside outplays coach favorite Noah Vedral and dark horse Evan Simon, that’s a signal that the Rutgers offense will be primed for big things. If he can’t, there might be a marginal improvement, but not the big jump that would propel Rutgers into the top half of the Big Ten.
Okay, okay, we promised 9 Buzzfeed-style bullets so here you go. 9 reasons why the Rutgers offense will be improved in 2022. Forget the realism people, we’re smoking the hopium this offseason!
1. Gavin Wimsatt Does Gavin Wimsatt Things
It’s a little ridiculous to pin the entire success of a 11-person+ operation on one individual. That said, 2022 will be defined by whether or not Wimsatt can live up to his potential.
The Defense should be solid. The special teams should be in the conversation for the best in the country. The O-Line should be significantly improved. The coaches are sound and the schemes are well-known. Everything is there for this team to do things, but if the quarterback doesn’t excel, there is a low ceiling. It’s true of all football at every level but especially of Rutgers Football in 2022.
Fortunately, #9 brings a lot to the table. There’s a reason he’s the highest rated quarterback recruit ever on the banks.
He’s big. He has a strong arm. He can make every throw and does so with touch. He’s mobile in the pocket and can make plays with his legs. He’s by all measures a high character kid, has high Football IQ and is a natural leader. He has the moxie, the “it”, the momentum, whatever you want to call it.
Ultimately, as #9 goes, so goes Rutgers in 2022.
2. The Quarterback Platoon Works
Okay, let’s back off the hyperbole for a second. There are three* other accomplished quarterbacks on the roster.
Noah Vedral brings veteran leadership, toughness and mobility to the position. There’s a reason why the highest recruit in school history sat on the bench last year. Vedral is a gamer and has singlehandedly put the team on his back and won games or brought the team to the brink (hello Michigan!). He has a track record of success, he takes care of the football, and he is a favorite of the coaches for these reasons. There’s a very, very high floor for Vedral, as you know he’s not going to implode and his injury history is pretty spectacular despite taking a beating behind a makeshift o-line for years.
Evan Simon is another quarterback on the roster who could start and win games. He’s big enough, strong enough, smart enough, and has shown in game situations that he can drive the ball down the field with confidence. When he played in 2021, he threw with the surety and resolve of a veteran, despite coming in cold with little prep. An ideal backup, he’s largely a forgotten man in the story of the starting job, but with a big spring or summer camp, he has all the tools to play meaningful snaps, whether in a platoon or as the singular starter.
So, Johnny Langan is technically not a Quarterback. Then again, he’s probably one of the only players in big time college football who really shouldn’t have a position. The guy can throw, run, catch, block and can probably play a little defense. Any version of 2022 where a platoon is in effect is going to feature a lot of Johnny Football running a lot of weird plays.
Controversial take: For the first time in a long time here at Rutgers, these quarterbacks would all likely start at most football programs throughout the country.
While that might be a low bar for a place like Ohio State, it’s not here in Jersey. That means that while the ceiling for this offense is going to be set by Wimsatt’s performance, the floor is going to be set by Vedral and Simon*. The other likely model of success is that all three** play meaningful snaps throughout the season.
*And Langan, kinda
3. The Offensive Line Plays B1G
Okay, we’ve spilled a lot of ink without talking about the most important position on the field.
Yeah, I said it, the O-Line is the key to offensive success. What? It’s the Big Ten? This isn’t even a lukewarm take.
The interesting factor here is that Rutgers Offensive Line in 2022 is pretty much guaranteed to improve meaningfully, and could be one of the best units in the league. Big Time transfers in JD DiRenzo, Willie Tyler, Curtis Dunlap and Mike Ciaffoni should bring size, athleticism and experience to the unit, while 4 Star tackle Jacob Allen, the top recruit in Jersey, is waiting in the wings. This is outside of the existing O-Linemen who formed one of the better starting units on the banks in recent memory (yeah, we know. Some of those were painful memories).
If you’re wondering why you’re reading about football on a Big Ten site and not hearing about the Hog Molies, it’s because it’s a done deal. Mark it down. The Rutgers Offensive Line will be one of the most improved groups in the conference in 2022 and it’s going to be a big part of the success.
4. Sean Gleeson’s Telemetry Continues
Offensive Coordinator Sean Gleeson took over a unit that struggled for years under a preposterously unstable group of coordinators. His immediate impact in 2020 is notable:
- +13 points per game (4th most in the country)
- 300+ Yards Per Game in Big Ten Play (first time since 2015)
- 26.7 Points per game in Big Ten play
- 2020 Broyles Award nominee
Last year saw a softening of the curve so to speak, but the offense continued to perform at a respectable level. While this might be business as usual elsewhere, competent, consistent coaching has been a rarity at Rutgers in the past decade and Gleeson’s stalwart leadership is a big part of the success of the program.
Given the growing familiarity with the offense, his staff’s consistency, and Gleeson’s own growth as a play-caller, we should expect to see a continuation of that improvement into 2022. The quick-hitting, motion-heavy, highly variable offense we saw in 2021 should be back, with even more wrinkles in play.
For the first time in a long time, the most pressing concern with our Offensive Coordinator is when he’s going to get poached by another program as their Head Coach, not if we can throw for 100+ yards in a game (don’t google it...just don’t).
5. Aron Cruickshank + Transfer WRs = Big Plays
We mentioned the four big time transfers on the offensive line, but a big hole in the offense left by Bo Melton being drafted by the Seahawks is the return of speedster Aron Cruickshank from injury and the addition of two big-time transfers to the WR room.
Taj Harris transferred in from Syracuse, bringing the 5th most catches and 8th most yards in Syracuse history to the banks. Rutgers fans may remember Harris torching our secondary for 8 catches and 122 yards this past season. He’s a Jersey boy who’s coming back home and should be a major story and major contributor to the offense in 2022.
Sean Ryan continues the immaculate Big East circa 2005 vibes by joining Rutgers from West Virginia. At 6’ 3” and averaging 16 yards a catch in 2021, he could be a great compliment to the rest of the WR room.
There’s a chance that those skills don’t transfer to the new roster or new playbook, but if this offense goes in 2022, these three receivers should play a big part in it.
6. The Running Backs Take Over
A pair of Academic All Big Ten athletes in Kyle Monangai and Aaron Young should lead the charge for the Scarlet Knights, replacing outbound hard-running NFL draftee Isaih Pacheco. Both passed the eye test in 2021, running productively behind an undersized offensive line. If there’s one group that should benefit from the improvements in the trenches, it’s this one.
Given Pacheco’s eye-popping workout numbers (4.3 speed hello!), it stands to reason that this group may underperform in 2022. “Pop” left big shoes to fill and while each has plus traits, there’s a big of uncertainty with this group. Again though, if 2022 meets its potential, it may come from a grinding rushing attack that takes advantage of those cold Jersey afternoons to put away close games.
And we can’t talk about the backfield without mentioned that...
7. Johnny Football Does Johnny Football Things
No, Johnny Langan is not going to rush 100+ times for 1,000+ yards. He will bring key plays to key situations, a big determining factor in wins and losses. While he’ll line up at TE and occasionally at QB, Langan is likely still the best short yardage rusher on the roster and has the ability to get those key first downs and touchdowns when the whole defense is stacked up against them.
For us viewers, Johnny Football brings an entertaining trick play potential and a fun style of play. He’s great to watch and we should all appreciate his time on the banks while we can.
For coaches, it’s less fun. They have to prepare for the starting tight end to drop back to throw, run the option, run the draw, or you know, actually run tight end routes. They’ll be happy to see 2022 be his final act.
8. Why Did Gavin Wimsatt Have to Wear Number 9
This is getting ridiculous. Why did I commit to seeing this joke all the way through?
9. Did We Mention Gavin Wimsatt?
In closing, when we’re talking about ceiling, it all comes down to #9.
Yeah, there are other very talented quarterbacks on the offense. Yeah, the O-Line needs to live up to potential. Yeah, the skill positions need to make plays.
But if this offense is going to be in the upper echelon in the Big Ten - which it has the potential to do - it’s all going to come down to whether #9 can beat out the proven veterans, get a handle on a complex playbook, and stare down the best defenses in college football week after week.
Good luck kid. We’re all rooting for you.