March 25, 2017

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Despite playing five quarterbacks last season and having the starter of the last five games returning, Rutgers is entering its spring practice not settled on a No. 1 for this year.

While coach Chris Ash acknowledged Giovanni Rescigno as the incumbent, he said the spot would need to be earned.

With Chris Laviano and Hayden Rettig transferring, the five-man competition is down to three with redshirt junior Rescigno competing against redshirt senior Zach Allen and sophomore Tylin Oden.

Oden is the most athletic of the group, but needs to work on his throwing, and did so after Saturday's practice as Rescigno and Allen addressed the media.

However, Rescigno's athleticism continues to surprise.

''Gio runs a lot better than I thought he'd run,'' new offensive coordinator Jerry Kill said. ''I didn't know he ran that well as far as speed-wise.''

Rescigno displayed that speed the first collegiate carry, which was a 42-yard touchdown run. But he tweaked a hamstring against Minnesota, and never had the same mobility.

''I guess I run weird, people have said. I guess I come off if I jog or if I run that I don't look athletic,'' Rescigno said. ''I've been running like that since I was a little kid. I love (proving myself). Coach Kill is a new coach and we're all trying to impress him. Even if you played all the games last year. ... That's the mentality I have to keep having for the rest of spring.''

While a starting quarterback job could be secured by the end of spring, according to Kill, the arrival freshman quarterback Jon Lewis could change that.

''We're going to put the best player on the field,'' Kill said. ''If it's my wife and she's the best player, we'll play her.''

Whoever it is, Kill wants a quarterback that commands the offense, moves it with consistency and doesn't turn over the football.

What that offense will look like appears to be a mix between the pro-style offense and spread. Last season, Rutgers ran the power-spread under Drew Mehringer after years of running a pro-style.

While the quarterbacks said they haven't lined up under center in the first two spring practices, the one-year hiatus of a fullback in the offense has now reemerged with the position of H-back.

''It's a position that's very multiple,'' Kill said.'' A lot of that came back from my Minnesota days, but a lot from being at K-State and how they use their guy. A guy that can line up in a lot of different places and do a lot of different things, but I also want one that can carry the ball some, so smart, good blocker, good knowledge of the game. ... He just makes you more multiple.''

While Allen faces an uphill battle to win the job, he is looking forward to a fresh start. The last time he played was against No. 4 Michigan, and he struggled.

''What we did last year doesn't really matter that much, per se, we're going to be judged on what we do during camp and what we do during spring ball,'' Allen said.

The Michigan game was not a fair test for Allen. The Wolverines were just a better team and Rutgers could not compete.

''I would have liked more opportunities but it is what it is,'' Allen said. ''It's college football. It's a business, they gave Gio a shot and he ran with it a little bit. It's part of the game. It's time to move forward and try to win the job this year.''

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