Everyone knows that Rutgers has an impending transformation on the horizon. The school will leave the Big East for the Big Ten, becoming the conference’s eastern-most outpost and bringing Midwestern smashmouth college football -- and, perhaps more significantly in terms of decision making, the Big Ten Network -- to the New York region.
The move is a big one for the school and its football program, which was resurrected from the ashes in the mid 2000s and has since become an oft threatening but ultimately disappointing contender on the national scale. Some of those limited returns are clearly due to Rutgers’ general inability to recruit the nation’s top players, in part due to its lack of football heritage (beyond that whole playing the first organized game thing) and in part because it is located in Piscataway, N.J., not Miami or Southern California.
The move to the Big Ten should help that recruiting push. At the same time, the program may be trying to change the way it does things. Need evidence? Look no further than the school’s first scholarship offers for the Class of 2016. As noted by MaxPreps, both are quarterbacks, and both are among the highest-regarded prospects in the state of New Jersey.
Before we get any further, it’s worth taking a second look at precisely which class these athletes will be in: 2016. These are 14-year-old passers we’re talking about. No, they’re not USC offering a scholarship to David Sills, but it’s not far away from it.
The latter of the pair to receive a scholarship offer was Sonny Abramson, who was the freshman star of Sparta (N.J.) Pope John XXIII High in fall 2012. Abramson has also received significant attention from schools like Notre Dame, Michigan and Stanford, so it’s anything but a safe bet to assume that he’ll end up with the Scarlet Knights.
That didn’t deter the Knights from extending him an offer, of course. The school’s other freshman offer is significantly more specious. Jarrett Guarantano is a talented prospect at Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic High, but he’s yet to start a single game on a varsity football field. Guarantano is expected to fight for a spot under center at Bergen Center, annually one of the nation’s best programs, during the fall 2013 season.
Compare that to Abramson’s 20 touchdowns and 2,137 yards, and it’s clear who is a safer bet … at the moment.
Of course, picking which freshman quarterback is more likely to pan out is a bit like trying to bet on which Sesame Street youngster is most apt to become the next Savion Glover. In short, you can take a wild guess, but it’s just that, a wild guess.
That’s precisely what makes Rutgers’ efforts to land a quarterback who won’t even stop on campus for more than three years feel all the more desperate. Or perhaps the offers are pro-actively forwarding thinking. After all, beauty and genius are in the eye of the beholder, even when it comes to recruiting.