photos: NJ.com, New-Herald
Coming off a brutal 1-11 season, Chris Ash has been feeling the Spring heat. With numerous questions up and down the roster, there was a need to find help in critical areas. A couple of those needs were addressed in the last week with the acquisition of two grad transfers.
Quarterback McLane Carter comes to the banks from Texas Tech where he started 3 games and appeared in 9. He was slowed by an ankle injury, so with 677 career passing yards and 4TD’s, The lefty does not have eye-popping stats but he has P5 experience and adds desperately needed depth at the position for 2019. Art Sitkowski struggled mightily his freshman year and there is no guarantee he will move the needle this year. McClane, who is listed at 6’3’ 225 lbs, will press him in practice and will be a much-needed option should Sitkowski not develop as planned. Especially with BC transfer Johnny Langan’s eligibility still in the air.
With Jerome Washington gone, the recent exodus of projected starting tight end Travis Vokolek considerably shook up the depth chart at that position. The addition of Kyle Penniston from Wisconsin is a big boost. Penniston has 16 career receptions for 176 yards and 4 touchdowns. Again, not big numbers but plenty of P5 playing experience, in this case in the Big 10. Experience is a huge factor here being that converted QB Johnathan Lewis was the projected starter while awaiting the status of UCLA transfer Matt Alaimo (Are all RU’s applications on the bottom of the stack?). Penniston can step right into a starting role and contribute immediately.
Chris Ash has taken plenty of scorn from the fan base coming off of a terrible year. And with the challenges seemingly insurmountable, give him and his staff credit for filling holes in the roster with these two players. With the scholarships being used the focus can return to the recruiting trail which has been sluggish compared to others in the conference.
Neither player is going to immediately tip the scale but superstars are not what you usually get from the transfer portal. Both are serviceable plug and play options that give the offense much-needed depth and experience. Simply put, the team is better today than it was.
Now with the Running back room looking pretty good, the offensive line and receivers become the big issue. This will have to be addressed with the current roster and it will not be easy. This much is clear, Rutgers must figure out a way to move the ball under the Ash era or it will be another painfully long season on the banks.