Greg Schiano on transfer portal: “We are going to do everything we can”
Rutgers wrapped up spring camp on Saturday with the Scarlet-White Game. Following the game, head coach Greg Schiano addressed the media about progress made this spring. He also touched on the importance of the rest of the offseason. One major question for this team moving forward is whether Schiano and the staff will now add to the roster through the transfer portal. The deadline to enter the portal ends on Sunday.
“I can’t really get into that right now. But I think you guys kind of know what we’re trying to do, but that’s kind of private,” Schiano emphasized. “We are going to do everything we can.”
So far this offseason, Rutgers has added five players from the transfer portal. All joined the program before spring ball. Four of them are on the defensive side of the ball. They include safety Flip Dixon from Minnesota, former MAC cornerbacks Eric Rogers from Northern Illinois and Charles Amankwaa from Akron, as well as defensive lineman Isaiah Iton from Ole Miss. Each of them registered multiple starts and gained plenty of experience for their former teams. Adding that type of player profile has improved the depth of a defensive unit that most hope will take the next step in the fall.
The lone offensive player added has been FCS transfer Naseim Brantley. New offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca saw Brantley up close last season. The wide receiver scored the lone touchdown for Western Illinois against Minnesota, where Ciarrocca served as OC. Brantley led Western Illinois with 53 catches and for 893 yards and nine touchdowns. He very well could become the top wideout for the offense this fall.
That being said, Rutgers has plenty of room for improvement on the offensive end. Ciarrocca missed most of the first window for the transfer portal this offseason. He wasn’t hired by Rutgers until January and barely had a chance to evaluate his personnel at that point. Now that spring camp is over and the entire offensive staff has a much better idea of what they’re working with, it’s fair to expect portal options will be explored.
While running back appears to be a strength for Rutgers, adding potential help at offensive line, tight end and receiver should have to be considered. With so many unproven offensive players on the roster, finding more experienced players to fill some gaps makes sense and is needed.
There is also a depth concern at quarterback. Last season, Rutgers went the bulk of four games without Noah Vedral and Gavin Wimsatt due to injury. Unproven Evan Simon was the lone scholarship QB. The offense had many issues last season, but the lack of depth at quarterback was exposed.
This season, Wimsatt and Simon return. However, true freshman Ajani Sheppard as the only other scholarship signal caller on the roster. It will be a difficult needle to thread. Even so, the idea of bringing in a quarterback from the portal who has some level of experience seems like a reasonable idea to entertain.
Whatever positions they target and whoever Rutgers ultimately brings into the program, Schiano harped on the importance of those potential players fitting in the right way.
“‘ll repeat that the way we use the portal and the way we approach the portal is they really have to be a cultural fit,” Schiano explained. “Otherwise, I don’t want to bring him here because they could be a great player, but it’s not a cultural fit. They’re going to lead guys in the wrong direction.”
Last season, Rutgers brought in Syracuse transfer Taj Harris through the portal. He was projected to be the No. 1 receiver. However, he left after one game and one reception. For the most part though under Schiano, RU has brought in many good fits to the program.
Wide receiver Sean Ryan had a successful 2022 season after transferring in from West Virginia. Aron Cruickshank and Noah Vedral were key members of the offense for multiple years after transferring from other Big Ten schools. Current key members of the roster who transferred to Rutgers include Aaron Lewis, Mayan Ahanotu, Ireland Brown, Curtis Dunlap Jr., and Johnny Langan. There have also been several transfers who have gone on to play in the NFL including Michael Dwumfour, Tre Avery and soon to be sixth round draft pick Christian Braswell.
More times than not under Schiano, Rutgers has added transfers who have been productive and fit into the program well. Doing so again in the coming weeks will be another key factor in showing improvement on the field during the 2023 season.
“It’s more about building the program than one guy coming in here and having personal success, but bringing us down, ” Schiano explained. “It’s real important. That yes, they’re talented. Yes, they lift the level of our team. Yes, they fit our culture. I think we have a few of those, which is one of the reasons they’re considering us, but we just got to see how it ends.”
While Rutgers made progress this past spring, more is needed throughout the rest of the offseason. Competition within each position group must improve. Bringing more talent in from the portal to improve depth is very important. However, Schiano made it clear how each transfer fits into the program is just as critical as well. He’s had success doing so over the last few years. Hopefully, he and his staff can do it again.
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May 1, 2023 at 7:49 am
Another solid piece of work. I find better, more balanced, articles here than on NJ.com. I’ve heard Coach Schiano talk about the portal, even recruiting more generally and cultural fit. Not to nitpick but Harris was either an anomaly, a prayer or an exception.
When coach Schiano showed up for his initial interview for the head coach position he had a prepared presentation that included a couple of hundred portal candidates to help improve RU’s competitiveness. He, however, stressed the judicious use of the portal combined with recruiting and player development. He was head and shoulders above the other candidates in terms of preparedness and planning.
I’ve seen all the comments about bringing in another QB. I’d say its low odds but we’ll see. We don’t need heroics with this new offensive system. We need offensive management, efficiency, ball control and the elimination of turnovers. It will be interesting to see from among the three areas (Offense, Defense and Special Teams) where the coaches opt for more depth and experience via the portal. No doubt. ‘The Scarlet Faithful’ will be the source for breaking the news and providing analysis.
May 1, 2023 at 6:15 pm
Ditto to everything that Henry Rutgers said, especially about the quality of the content on this site. Aaron, have you heard about any specific QB names linked to RU?
May 1, 2023 at 8:38 pm
Thank you both for the kind words.
I cannot confirm Rutgers is even interested in a QB in the portal. Everything said was my opinion. Today was the deadline for players to enter the portal and I imagine most if not all moves will be made in May.