Sixth-year senior quarterback Noah Vedral engineered a touchdown for Scarlet on the game’s first possession that started at the 25-yard line. He capped it off by throwing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Taj Harris. Vedral, who saw playing time for Scarlet and White, was 9-for-16 for 119 yards and scoring. He found receiver Shameen Jones for a long 49-yard gain.
Gavin Wimsatt, the first registrant to come to Rutgers after playing two high school games last fall, also scored on his first opportunity. He connected with receiver Sean Ryan for a 26-yard pass, then finished his opener with a short 1-yard pass to running back Kyle Monangai.
Evan Simon also had a lot of work behind center and went 12-for-19 for 109 yards and one interception. Austin Albericci and Gavin Rupp also saw playing time.
“I think it was very similar to what I thought all spring. I thought it was really good at times and inconsistent at times,” head coach Greg Schiano said of the quarterback’s play- back. “We gotta have a great summer. And you know, the hard thing about spring is you’re on, you’re off, you’re on, you’re off. These guys in the summer, they throw the with each other every day on their own, and that’s really where the formulation of the chemistry, I think, happens. No coaches, just them, running the show. We’re going to take a little leap here in recruiting and a few other things. But I’m really excited about this group coming into training camp is part of our preparation because they’re young and they’re hungry and they’ve got a lot to learn but they’re really trying to learn it. It’s exciting for a coach.
Harris and Ryan, the two discarded transfers the Scarlet Knights brought in during the offseason, had an immediate impact.
Ryan had four catches for 48 yards while Harris had five catches for 49 yards and the touchdown. Christian Dremel also had two catches for 43 yards, Isaiah Washington grabbed for 15 yards, Jones had 67 yards on three catches and Joshua Youngblood had two catches for 29 yards. Ahmirr Robinson also contributed with a 19-yard catch.
“I think they’re really going to help us out,” Schiano said of Harris and Ryan. “You know, they come in, they join Shameen and then a whole host of other guys. We’re losing a really good player in Bo as he leaves for the NFL. And I think it’s really important that what we have done through the portal, complementing what we already have here. We have young receivers who are going to be really good but they take a bit of time to get there. Having experienced guys in the squad now helps a lot.
Before Vedral’s touchdown pass to Harris, running back Al-Shadee Salaam made his presence known with a 37-yard run on the third play of the game. Salaam ran through the hole, got behind his blockers and nearly entered the open field for good.
Salaam had five carries for 71 yards. With Aaron Young this spring, Salaam had the chance to really step up and he did it alongside Monangai and Jamier Wright-Collins.
“I didn’t see him much because he was in the red shirt and he got injured at the end of the year, but he’s a very talented guy. Really talented,” Schiano said. “Fast, explosive, and we just have to make sure we find ways to involve him. And he’s going to deserve those touches. I think between him and Kyle; Kyle, I think, had a really good night leading football. You I know, we’ll get Aaron back and you’ll have depth there. It’s Ja; if he can stay healthy, Ja has a chance to really compete there as well. So I like our running room. It’s just going to be tweaked and really learn the little details of playing the position.”
The offensive line will remain a work in progress and there will be stiff competition throughout the summer and in training camp, but one guy who has stood out is Ireland Brown. Brown, who moved from defense last season and ended up starting at guard, moved to center in the spring. He won the Mark Mills Award as Most Improved Offensive Player.
“Ireland started the spring on guard. After four practices we moved to center. We just thought he had that kind of quick twitch, and he has it,” Schiano said. “I mean, I think he can be as good as he wants. He’s really improved a lot. He’s done a good job in the first four practices, but from practice five he’s really took over. You know, centers, people kind of take it for granted, especially in a shotgun offense. They just take that cliche for granted. Well, that’s not the thing the easiest in the world. If that’s all you had to do, it’s easy. But you have to break it, and then you have to block somebody, and that other guy doesn’t have to break it. He just has to shoot the ball. It’s really a lot harder than people think. So you really have to be a pretty good athlete to do that, and with him and Gus, I think we We have good depth in this position now.”
Tight ends Victor Konopka (four catches, 31 yards), Matt Alaimo (three catches, 23 yards) and Johnny Langan (three catches, 16 yards) also got in on the action.
The game featured 14 points on the first two practices of the night, but the offense struggled the rest of the way to score points on the scoreboard. Schiano said the roster was obviously split, some guys weren’t playing, some were on instant accounts, and they were mixing and matching, and changes happened throughout the night.
“I’m going to watch it this weekend and see what’s changed,” Schiano said. “My hunch would be we started the game and then we started rotating people. So we’ve already split teams and then after two sets I want to make sure everyone gets enough reps. My thing , the spring game is, yes, the lights are on, and we can assess the people playing in a game atmosphere. But the spring is difficult. It’s 14 practices and it covers a long period of time because we’re on and we’re off, we’re on and we’re gone so I wanted to make sure everyone got the reward everyone who was healthy got the reward to play in the spring game So all five quarterbacks got a lot of reps, every receiver, every position got reps. Every lineman, every kid who got to play in the game; every player who got to play, played. So , when you like Really want to mix and match, I think the product is down a bit. But there are also other reasons, I’m sure I’ll see on the video.”
Defensively, linebacker is a position that has taken a hit this spring with Moses Walker and Mohamed Toure potentially out for a while. Tyreem Powell didn’t play in the scrum either.
In their place players such as Austin Dean, Anthony Johnson, Deion Jennings and Andrew Vince played.
Dean was credited with four assisted tackles and two solos to go along with 2.0 sacks, Johnson had four assisted tackles and one solo, Vince had three assisted saves and a solo tackle, and Jennings had two tackles.
“They’ve been doing a great job all spring. They’re training on the job, aren’t they. Especially Anthony, I mean, really, he’s graduating from high school in a few weeks,” said Schiano. “They’re both natural linebackers. They’re instinctive. They’ve got a lot to learn, but I think that’s definitely a slim part of our roster right now. I don’t know yet with Mo. It’s probably going to take a few weeks now. before we know. So either he’ll be able to play or he’ll have surgery and that’ll be it for the season. But the doctors just informed us today that we’re going to have to wait a few weeks to know that, which is good because once you’ve done the surgery, it doesn’t matter. He’s done for the season. So say our prayers.
Along with Brown, Alaimo and Jennings won awards in the spring. Alaimo won the Frank R. Burns Award while Jennings received the Douglas A. Smith Award.