Don't look now, but Rutgers is recruiting at a high level and it has a clear, nationally-known class headliner already locked in.
It's Owensboro (Ky.) High School star Gavin Wimsatt, the big quarterback who turned the Scarlet Knight class on its head with his pledge to Greg Schiano and company back in April.
The No. 11-ranked quarterback by SI All-American ahead of the 2021 prep season, the rising-senior also had his traits on display for the country to see while competing among the best at the Elite 11 Finals in Los Angeles last week.
"It's great, a great feeling," he told SIAA after a workout. "These guys are cool and they wanted to compete, just like me. It's nice when you're having fun and competing at the same time.
"I feel like I did pretty good, could always get better, but I started off pretty good. I was just having fun, spinning the ball and getting better every day."
The week was jam-packed with competitive events, outside the box workouts, mental work and even community service for the 20 prospects who made the cut.
The first day featured a camp-style workout complete with college stars as counselors, offering tips and plenty more for the next wave of quarterbacks headed to that level.
"My counselor was Malik Willis, from Liberty," Wimsatt said. "It's really nice, especially when he's cool enough to just talk to you and not really act like kind of a coach. He would just talk to you, real easy, all while he was working.
"He can definitely spin it, the game is nice."
Just before flying to California for the event, Wimsatt took in Piscataway for his first in-depth look at Rutgers as a whole. He visited on his own during the NCAA's dead period before committing, but was unable to connect with coaches or anyone else on staff at the school because of the pandemic-laden restrictions.
But in late June the signal caller took his official visit and got the full experience.
"It was great, I had as much fun as I probably could have," he said. "Just getting to see different commits there, too, and all the coaches in person for the first time. It was great, it felt like home. The people around the town, the fans, it all made me feel like home."
The trip reminded the 6'3", 200-pound passer why he picked the program in the first place.
"Rutgers' family atmosphere from Coach Schiano and Coach (Sean) Gleeson, plus everything Coach Schiano is trying to do with the program," Wimsatt said. "He's a great coach and I know he can definitely turn it around. And we've got a great class coming in, so it definitely helps."
Said class, Ranked No. 13 to open the month of July and having added another commitment since, is littered with New Jersey talent. Wimsatt is working to widen the pipelines from which the program pulls from, especially into the southern footprint.
While on the trip in June, he even kicked the tires on a key class of 2023 target from Florida.
"Receiver Bryson Rodgers, he was just offered by Alabama, and he was on the visit," Wimsatt said. "Great kid and he's a baller."
As recruiting adjusts to the new world of college football, where player profit is now possible, it has come up some between program and prospect. Name, Image, Likeness outside of the New York City metro could become a tool for Rutgers recruiting, though neither party is focused on as much at the moment.
"I'm definitely aware, I've talked about NIL with them and that it could become a possibility," he said. "I've talked about it with them but we haven't gotten too into it. Right now the main focus is getting there and playing ball."
As a junior in 2020, Wimsatt threw for 2,349 yards and 27 touchdowns.
SI All-American Evaluation
Wimsatt is a raw young quarterback that needs to improve every technical aspect of his game, but he's also a playmaker that can do damage from the pocket, outside the pocket and in the run game. The Owensboro standout has a great frame at 6-3 and 200 pounds, and there's a lot of room to add good weight. There's also a lot of room for him to keep adding more power to his throws.
Wimsatt has a little hitch when he throws, and you'll see him pat the ball a lot right before he's about to throw. He makes up for it with a quick, compact release. This is imperative for a play-action quarterback or a quarterback being asked to run a lot of RPO throws. It's also a trait that should allow him to develop into a highly accurate quarterback at the next level.
The Rutgers pledge needs to clean up his footwork in the pocket, but when he sets his feet he's accurate, shows good ball placement and he snaps the ball off. When he loses accuracy is when his feet get rushed or he's not stepping towards his target. As he gets more efficient mechanically his accuracy will take a jump. Athletically, Wimsatt shows exceptional foot quickness and balance, traits he uses to manipulate the pocket as a thrower and to do damage as a runner. He can do major damage as a runner, both on designed runs and when passing plays break down.