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Starting Lewis is prudent thing to do for Rutgers

Leslie Monteiro



It never ends. Rutgers is back to square one, starting another quarterback competition in the middle of the season.

This is Rutgers Scarlet Knights football in a nutshell. Plenty of losing and searching for the next quarterback savior along with eventually finding the next coach when his predecessor does not work out.

Second-year head coach Chris Ash did not mention who will be the quarterback when the Scarlet Knights play Illinois on the road Saturday afternoon. He said fourth-year junior Giovanni Rescigno and freshman quarterback Johnathan Lewis received reps this week in practice along with incumbent quarterback Kyle Bolin.


Rutgers is better served starting Lewis this week and the rest of the season. The timing is right with this program building for another better tomorrow. If he is not going to learn now, when will he? With him being a freshmen and Rutgers being far away from respectability, it makes sense.

Bolin has done okay, but if Ash and Rutgers offensive coordinator Jerry Kill truly believed in him, there would not be a quarterback competition in October. There’s no point playing him anymore if they want to find another quarterback that can give them a spark. From watching him play, he is not the quarterback of the future let alone quarterback of the present with him throwing for 698 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions.

Rescigno offers nothing. He is not the present, and he is certainly not the future. If he was good, he would have beaten out Bolin, so what’s the point of playing him?

Lewis is a freshman. That’s what he has going for him. He has a chance to learn from his mistakes now in what is a lost season. He and Rutgers might as well get it over with. There’s no pressure on him to do well this year and next year, so this gives him a chance to develop and see where he goes from there. Rutgers has to find out by next year if he is the guy moving forward, so he might as well give them a sample size of seven games to show what he can do now.

Being a freshman should not be a reason not to give him a job. This has nothing to do with him earning it. He has to play because he is not going to get better watching Bolin or Rescigno play. He can only apply what he learned by playing against tough Big Ten competition.

Besides Lewis is the only reason anyone would want to watch Rutgers football right now. There’s nothing appealing about this football team. The results and play speak for themselves.

Let’s see how the 6-3, 240-pound St. Peter’s Prep product work on his passing game to go along with his running game. Everyone is curious about his potential. He gives Rutgers a better chance to win than Rescigno and Bolin. That may not mean much, but this is about thinking the big picture here.

Winning games is not important this year for Rutgers. It never was. It was building for the future. Winning two or three Big Ten games does nothing. Besides winning three or two conference games being better than winning nothing, the football program will still stink. It does not make a difference when it comes to the big picture. Winning a total of five games will not bring momentum or excitement next year.

Only Lewis making strides this year can make a Rutgers fan be optimistic next year. In fact, starting him next year would be the only reason anyone in the Garden State would even bother watching the Scarlet Knights.

Of all the quarterbacks the Scarlet Knights have, Lewis has the best arm of all. He is a dual-threat quarterback, which is now an important trait to have in college football. He is the right fit for Kill’s offense. He has the potential to be a playmaker than Bolin and Rescigno.

The freshman may not earn the position, but so what? What has Bolin and Rescigno done to earn it? Ash and Kill can’t have it both ways. To say Rutgers is putting Lewis in a position to fail is a bunch of bunk.

This is about taking risk for a higher reward in the future. This is why starting Lewis makes sense right now. Rutgers has to show that things are heading in the right direction, and only the freshman quarterback can indicate it by playing.

Rescigno and Bolin have had their chances. This is who they are. They are average quarterbacks that won’t make a difference at Rutgers. They are not the solution now and beyond.

No one knows what Lewis is, but the Scarlet Knights owe it to themselves to find out.

The sooner the better.

Leslie Monteiro is a syndicated sports columnist who writes about the Tri-State area teams for the Upstate Courier. He is based in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and can be reached on Twitter @MongoGoesInSane.