Hours before taking the podium at Big Ten Football Media Days, Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano addressed the biggest preseason question by naming Gavin Wimsatt the starting quarterback. It was first reported by Brian Fonseca of NJ Advance Media.
“I’m excited,” Schiano said. “I think Evan has done a really good job, too, so we have two guys that have experience — not a lot but some — but Gavin has worked really hard. I think (offensive coordinator) Kirk Ciarrocca has formed a really strong bond with all of our quarterbacks, both with relationships and football-wise through spring football and all of our summer stuff we’ve done. Now is the time, we need to get ready to play.”
Wimsatt struggled with accuracy last season, completing just 44.8% of his 145 pass attempts. That was the second lowest completion percentage in FBS last fall. However, Wimsatt was dealing with significant adversity. He missed three games with an ankle injury and wasn’t 100% the rest of the season once he did return. And all five starts came after offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson was fired. With Kirk Ciarrocca hired to replace him this offseason, he wasn’t shy about the importance of developing Wimsatt.
During spring camp Ciarrocca said of Wimsatt, “I think Gavin’s working really hard at it, I can see that. He’s obviously a very talented young man,” stated Ciarrocca. “He’s got really good physical skills. But I just love his work ethic, his energy. I don’t have any basis to compare it to. It’s just where he’s at is where he’s started and he’s been doing a great job working really hard and getting better every day.”
While Schiano declined from naming a QB starter following spring camp in April, it did seem that the program was leaning heavily towards Wimsatt as the eventual No. 1.
“I could see it in spring practice,” Schiano said in regard to Wimsatt improving. “I think a lot of it has to do with how Kirk has developed the whole room. Gavin is very comfortable with the way he’s being developed. I just saw him getting better and better and better. Until the game’s live, it’s not, but you have to do that first. I’m excited to see his progress when we get into a game. We’ve got a lot of time between now and then, which is great.”
Fonseca included Schiano indicating that Evan Simon was the No. 2 QB with true freshman Ajani Sheppard as No. 3
For the offense to take a significant step forward this season, getting the most out of Gavin Wimsatt is a necessity. Although Evan Simon has potential, Wimsatt’s physical tools gives him the highest ceiling under center. Naming him the starter before training camp starts next week makes a lot of sense. Building Wimsatt’s confidence and getting him as comfortable as possible in Ciarrocca’s system is key to him fulfilling his potential. For my take on areas the offense can implement to make progress this fall, click here.
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