Rutgers football: Here are 5 key players to watch when the Scarlet Knights take the field
There still are plenty of questions surrounding the Rutgers football team.
Everything from who exactly will be back on the roster to which transfers will be eligible to who earns the starting quarterback job.
Answers to those questions, at least some of them, are still weeks away.
But soon Greg Schiano and his coaching staff will begin learning who can help the most as they rebuild and try to work toward becoming a competitive Big Ten team.
The Scarlet Knights aren't projected to win many games this year. This season will be the first step in a long process.
Still, how competitive will Rutgers be?
There still is some talent on the roster — including both holdovers on the roster from the previous regime as well as transfers brought in by Schiano and Co.
Which players will be among the most important to help the Scarlet Knights compete in a shortened, Big Ten-only schedule?
Here's a look at five of them:
Isaih Pacheco, running back
Pacheco was Rutgers' leading rusher last season, running for 729 yards on 169 carries with seven touchdowns, the most by a Scarlet Knight since 2014. He played in 11 games, starting 10 of them.
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The junior showed that he can be a consistent contributor to the offense, averaging 4.3 yards per carry.
Pacheco, who ranked sixth in the Big Ten last season with 66.3 rushing yards, made strong early impressions on running backs coach Augie Hoffmann.
"(He's) been great," Hoffmann said during a call with reporters in June. "He's one of the emotional leaders on the team. You can see him leading during workouts. He's obviously a special, special talent. We're looking forward to getting him on the field and putting him in this offense and having Sean put together a great situation for him to be successful."
Noah Vedral, quarterback
Vedral stands to have a high impact for Rutgers. A graduate transfer, Vedral has two years of eligibility remaining and his skill set is an ideal fit for the type of no-huddle, up-tempo offense that new offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson wants to run.
When Vedral entered the transfer portal, Schiano watched film and immediately knew he would like to bring Vedral to Piscataway.
After about two weeks, Vedral was a Scarlet Knight.
"I think Noah really fits what we want to do offensively very well," Schiano said in June. "He's an experienced guy, he's got two years of eligibility remaining. He's a very mature guy. He's a talented guy. He has the skillset that I think can fit well into what we're doing, as well as the experience."
Vedral had an injury-riddled 2019 season and played in six games, starting two of them. He threw for 418 yards and rushed for 106.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Vedral is a talented quarterback, and certainly has a chance to be the Scarlet Knights' starting quarterback.
But he'll have to earn it.
Schiano said back in June that Vedral will be part of a quarterback competition in training camp.
Art Sitkowski, quarterback
Yes, another quarterback.
If Vedral doesn't win the job, there's a good chance that Sitkowski winds up the starter. In three games last season, Sitkowski was 44-of-68 for 429 yards and one touchdown. Sitkowski threw for 304 yards and a TD in the Scarlet Knights' game against Boston College.
Sitkowski had entered the transfer portal, but then changed course and return to Rutgers after Schiano was hired.
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Sitkowski is a strong-armed quarterback and isn't as much of a dual-threat as Vedral. Still, he showed signs of improvement and could benefit even more from learning from Gleeson, known as strong mentor for quarterbacks.
Sitkowski will have to continue to prove himself in preseason but it's not out of the question he wins the job.
Tyshon Fogg, linebacker
Fogg, who started all 12 games in 2019 at middle linebacker, will be one of the leaders of the defense under new defensive coordinator Robb Smith.
The 6-foot-1, 237-pound Fogg led Rutgers with 104 tackles last season, good for third in the Big Ten, and was a team captain.
Fogg earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors.
Adam Korsak, punter
Special teams shouldn't be overlooked and Korsak is one of the best punters in the country.
Korsak led the Big Ten with a net punt average of 41.5 yards, which also ranked 15th nationally.
He was a Ray Guy Award semifinalist and was named to the the Ray Guy Award preseason watch list for 2020.
"I think he's outstanding," special teams coordinator Adam Scheier said in June. "He's got a multitude of kicks that he can execute. Great with ball placement, great with operation time. He's got a great feel and he's going to be a weapon."