Rutgers training camp A to Z: Breaking down the biggest storylines for 2023

The Rutgers roster features defensive end Aaron Lewis and running back Aaron Young. There’s also defensive back Bo Mascoe. You can see where this is headed...
With training camp set to open Thursday, we recently profiled the most important Scarlet Knights, listed x-factors who could make or break the season and newcomers capable of making a big first impression. In addition to those lists, we broke down the biggest questions at each position and dove into five position battles to watch.
Now, it’s time to tackle the storylines from A to Z.
A: Alexandria
The Virginia hometown that cornerback Robert Longerbeam calls home. Did you know the junior played quarterback and defensive back at T.C. Williams High, the same school portrayed in the 2000 blockbuster “Remember The Titans”?
B: Bowling
Tight end Johnny Langan got a taste of postseason play when Rutgers got a surprise invite to the Gator Bowl two years ago. Now in his final season, Langan said “it’s bowl or bust” for him and his teammates as they strive to earn a bowl berth the traditional route.
C: Ciarrocca
It will be Kirk Ciarrocca’s second stint as offensive coordinator for the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers hired the former Minnesota play-caller to a three-year deal worth $1.4 million per year, which makes Ciarrocca the highest-paid assistant in program history.
D: Dark side
The Rutgers defense wants to play with an edge so look out for more pictures of players posing with a Darth Vader mask. The “Star Wars” metaphor has become a rallying call for a defense that hopes to be one of the Big Ten’s better units.
E: East
The Big Ten reworked its scheduling model and eliminated divisions for 2024 and 2025. That means Rutgers will no longer be stuck in the East Division with Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. Or at least that was the thinking until the schedule was actually released. Rutgers takes on all three of the perennial eastern powers in 2024 before receiving some schedule relief in 2025.
F: Fifth
This is a nod to running back Sam Brown V. He may be the fifth Sam Brown in his family, but he’s without question one of Rutgers’ most important players. The Philadelphia native was on his way to a stellar freshman campaign when a foot injury ended his season at the midway point.
G: Gavin Wimsatt
There may not be a bigger storyline than the development of the team’s starting quarterback. Wimsatt struggled in his final five starts last season, all of which resulted in losses, but there’s hope that with a new offense, guidance from Ciarrocca and a complete recovery from an ankle injury, that Wimsatt will be better positioned to lead the offense. In a somewhat surprising move, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano named Wimsatt his team’s starter ahead of training camp.
H: Harasymiak
His first call as defensive coordinator resulted in a strip sack against Boston College. Now in his second season, Joe Harasymiak will be tasked with elevating a defense that returns seven players who started at least nine games last season.
I: Isaiah Iton
The transfer from Ole Miss is one of five newcomers expected to compete for starting roles. He joins a defensive line that brings back three starters and six players who worked into last season’s rotation.
J: Jennings
Back for a sixth season, linebacker Deion Jennings overcame several injuries and went from a relative unknown to the team’s defensive leader last season. The linebacker led the way with 91 tackles and was named the team’s defensive MVP for his contributions.
K: Kicker
Keep an eye out for the kicking competition. Senior Jude McAtamney handled every kick last fall. He converted 12 of his 18 field-goal attempts and all but one extra point. Still, it’s McAtamney’s job to lose in training camp after he was pushed by sophomore Jai Patel, a South Brunswick native, throughout the spring.
L: Loyal
True, Rutgers made it through the offseason without any major losses to the transfer portal, but this one goes out for junior Shaquan Loyal. The defensive back his break-out moment against Temple and expects to step into a much bigger role with the graduation of Christian Izien.
M: Maryland
The last time Rutgers took the field, the Scarlet Knights dropped a 37-0 loss to the Terrapins in College Park. Rutgers will once again close out the regular season against Maryland in a game that very well could show where each team is headed.
N: National television
The countdown to kickoff is on. Rutgers opens its season Sept. 3 at home against Northwestern in a game that will be nationally televised in a marquee spot on CBS. The game would have drawn plenty of attention. With Northwestern mired in a hazing controversy, expect the audience to be even bigger.
O: Offensive woes
Rutgers averaged 13.0 points per game and 254.5 yards per game against FBS opponents last season. The stats were even worse after Rutgers fired offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson. It’s Schiano’s hope that Ciarrocca can simplify the offense and the additions of veteran assistants Pat Flaherty (offensive line) and Dave Brock (wide receivers) can revitalized a unit that hasn’t held up its end the last two seasons.
P: Punting legacy
The end of an era has arrived. Punter Adam Korsak exhausted his eligibility, meaning Rutgers must find his replacement. Luckily, the Scarlet Knights have groomed fellow Australian Flynn Appleby to take over for a legend and one of the most decorated punters in NCAA history.
Q: Questions
Check back tomorrow for an in-depth look at the biggest questions entering training camp. Until then, here’s one: How will Rutgers divvy up carries for a backfield that includes Brown, junior Kyle Monangai, senior Aaron Young and junior Al-Shadee Salaam.
R: Return game
Rutgers lost a weapon in the return game with the graduation of Aron Cruickshank but believes sophomore Rashad Rochelle could be next in to keep production at a high level. Rochelle, a wide receiver, was one of the bight spots of spring ball.
S: Schiano says
The coach entering year No. 4 of his second stint, kept his expectations hampered when asked about winning timelines and expectations. His players were more direct with what they had to say.
T: Transformation
When asked about Hollin Pierce, Schiano called his junior “one of the great stories of college football”. The 6-8, 340-pound tackle arrived as a walk-on, transformed his body and has developed into Rutgers’ most-trusted offensive linemen. After making 24 straight starts at right tackle, Pierce will be moved to the left side this training camp.
U: Underdogs
Vegas set the over/under for total wins this season at 4 or 4 1/2, depending on the book. It’s the same line as last year. In addition to the betting lines,’s preseason poll picked Rutgers to finish second to last in the Big Ten East (for the third year in a row).
V: Vulcans
Rutgers must replace its three leading receivers from a season ago. It’s counting on a pair of veteran transfers to fill part of the void. Jacquae Jackson, who had more than 1,200 yards receiving at the Division 2 level hopes, to make a smooth transition from the Vulcans to the Scarlet Knights. He’ll be alongside Naseim Brantley, who arrives after a standout season at Western Illinois.
W: Welcome back
Linebackers Mo Toure and Moses Walker both made their returns during spring ball after missing all of last season with ACL tears. Toure, a senior, led Rutgers in sacks in both 2020 and 2021 while Walker, a former four-star recruit, was in line for playing time as a true freshman.
X: X-factors
In addition to our list of x-factors, here’s one more statistic that should exemplify how far Wimsatt needs to come this year: Last season, his 55% completion percentage was the second worst amongst FBS quarterbacks.
Y: Yearning
This could be the feeling of the fan base after the Scarlet Knights haven’t put together a winning season since 2014.
Z: Zero
That’s the number of wins Rutgers has against top-25 opponents since 2010. Last year’s 52-17 loss to Michigan, the eventual Big Ten champion, was a lost opportunity to end the drought and score a monumental upset after the Scarlet Knights led at the break.

Latest Player Notes

How a Wisconsin legend got his German protégé into Badgers pro day

Mar 15, 2024 Marlon Werthmann put his life on hold for the opportunity in front of him Friday at the McClain Center.Werthmann ...

Why former Wisconsin football running back Braelon Allen didn't run the 40 at pro day

Mar 15, 2024 Braelon Allen’s sweat covered his shirt and dripped off his beard as he approached a group of reporters Friday.The ...

How can UW recruit its best class ever? It starts with these five prospects

By Andy Yamashita Seattle Times staff reporter Jedd Fisch has lofty recruiting goals at Washington. He didn’t waste any ...

Texas football kicks off spring practice Tuesday. We answer 24 questions for the 2024 team

Things certainly look fresh for the 2024 college football season, especially on the Texas campus.There’s a new conference ...

College Football Playoff: Conferences solve their differences (for now) and agree on general framework for 2026 and beyond

The FBS conferences and Notre Dame agreed on Friday to continue the College Football Playoff beyond the 2025 season, signing ...

Ball security, leadership key as Aztecs look to identify starting quarterback

San Diego State seemingly auditions a new starting quarterback on an annual basis.In the past 12 years, the Aztecs have opened ...

Results and more: A look at what happened at Penn State football’s Pro Day inside Holuba Hall

Most of those at Penn State’s Pro Day Friday were relatively quiet throughout the afternoon’s workouts, but there was one ...

Defense dominates first two weeks of Oregon State spring practice as Beavers ready for 2-week breather

CORVALLIS – Oregon State hit the break of spring practices Saturday, not exactly the midpoint but a good place to assess ...

Dillon Gabriel to have similar input, autonomy as Bo Nix had in Oregon’s offense

Published Mar. 16, 2024, 6:26 p.m.By James CrepeaEUGENE — Dillon Gabriel will have much of the same autonomy as Bo Nix did ...

Two transfers, one underclassman who impressed in Missouri football's spring game

With that, spring camp’s a wrap.Missouri football held its Black & Gold spring game Saturday in front of a healthy crowd ...
See More Player Notes