This is the third of a three-part series on Rutgers recruiting.
Part 1: Rebuilding the defensive line
Part 2: Who will be the impact players?
Most of them would normally spend their first year at Rutgers lifting weights and learning how to balance college courses and athletics, appearing in no more than four games to preserve their redshirt.
But these are not normal times.
Rutgers coach Greg Schiano and his staff will have unprecedented roster flexibility this fall following the NCAA’s decision to grant a blanket eligibility waiver amid the coronavirus pandemic. Every player on the roster has had his clock frozen, no matter how many games he plays this season.
Schiano indicated the rule will impact how Rutgers utilizes personnel this season, but he did not elaborate. But whether these true freshmen play significant snaps, few snaps or none at all, they represent the key building blocks the Scarlet Knights will look to rebuild the program with.
QB Evan Simon: A holdover from the Chris Ash recruiting era, the three-star passer from Manheim Central (Pa.) has a strong arm. He’s athletic, running a 4.91-second 40-yard dash and 4.37 shuttle at the Opening New Jersey Regional two years ago, with a 31.7-inch vertical leap. Ash’s staff fell in love with him because of his toughness and ability to run the ball. Rutgers has three quarterbacks with Big Ten starting experience ahead of Simon, plus redshirt freshman Cole Snyder. But it may still be worth giving him a look and capitalizing on the free season.
RB Kyle Monangai: Monangai (5-foot-9, 205 pounds) is a low-to-the-ground, explosive interior runner with vision and toughness. He adds a unique element to Rutgers’ running game and also adds value at slot receiver. The Don Bosco Prep product was a three-star recruit. Running back is one of the Scarlet Knights’ deepest position groups. But could Monangai become a special-teams ace in Year 1?
RB Jessie Parson III: Parson (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) is slight in build but boasts elite speed (4.41-second laser-timed 40-yard dash), instincts, and overall athletic ability. The New Rochelle product and three-star recruit will blueshirt, which means he will receive his scholarship at the beginning of freshman practice and it will count toward the 2021 class.
TE Tahjay Moore: Moore (6-foot-6, 225 pounds) is a versatile athlete who also was a basketball star, which made him more attractive to recruiters. The New Brunswick three-star will start at tight end but could eventually become a defender. He is explosive and has a violent streak to his game. He is also a blueshirt.
TE Shawn Collins: The three-star Montclair recruit (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) has his best football ahead of him. Collins’ father, Shawn Sr., played at Michigan. “He’s a three-sport kid, so once you get him and feed him and have him in the weight room year-round, you are talking about that kid running around at 265-270,” Montclair head coach John Fiore said. A development year is likely, but Collins could find himself higher up the depth chart than you would expect for a true freshman.
TE Victor Konopka: Konopka, a three-star Blair recruit who has played football for only a year after playing basketball at Don Bosco, has the body and the upside. Konopka (6-foot-7, 245 pounds) could make an impact at defensive end. He was Schiano’s first commit after he returned. Konopka has promise, but he needs some time to develop.
OT Isaiah Wright: Wright, a three-star recruit from St. Peter’s Prep, has a prototypical Power 5 build and had a strong consistent season as a senior after missing significant time throughout his high school career due to a lower-body injury. Wright (6-foot-5, 300 pounds) also could play defensive tackle. Wright is expected to need some time to develop.
LB Jamier Wright-Collins: The Paterson Kennedy three-star recruit will blueshirt. Wright-Collins (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) is one of the most complete players in New Jersey. He is a thumper who has the prototypical frame and plays with the violence coaches seek at linebacker. He can also cover and get to what he sees. Wright-Collins was also a county, sectional and group high jump champion. He is a blueshirt.
CB Robert Longerbeam: Rutgers flipped Longerbeam (6-foot, 160-pounds) from Temple after Schiano’s arrival. The T.C. Williams (Va.) three-star recruit can absolutely fly, projecting to various roles in the defensive secondary. His speed could get him on the field early. A development year seems likely, but Rutgers needs all the speed it can get, and Longerbeam could provide it.
S Elijuwan Mack: Mack (6-foot, 185 pounds) brings versatility and toughness to the Scarlet Knights. The St. Joseph of Montvale product and three-star recruit is one of the most well-rounded defenders in the region. “He can play safety, he can play corner, he has good feet. He plays with a little bit of an edge and has a nose for the ball,” according to Rivals analyst Adam Friedman.
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Todderick Hunt may be reached at [email protected]. James Kratch may be reached at [email protected]. Tell us your coronavirus story or send a tip here.