clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2021 Rutgers college football preview: Scarlet Knights set up for future success

Rutgers is earning much-needed wins on the recruiting trail, and Greg Schiano has the Scarlet Knights ready for the early stages of success.

Nebraska v Rutgers Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

Don’t look now, but the Rutgers Scarlet Knights are stockpiling talent on the recruiting trail. Greg Schiano’s return brought life back into the program, and fans should be ecstatic about the future. The Scarlet Knights finished 3-6 in 2020, and they should expect a similar win total as we look ahead to the 2021 season. It will take a few years for Rutgers to see the benefits of high level recruits coming in.

It is unlikely Rutgers will find themselves in a bowl game in 2021 but if they can reach that level of success, the Scarlet Knights would be way ahead of schedule. Regardless, this program is taking advantage of a talented area for high school football, and Schiano has done a fantastic job of selling Rutgers, which is incredibly difficult considering how far this program fell off since he left.

2020 Season Review

  • 3-6 Big Ten (5th in East)
  • Started the season 1-4, won two of last four games, won the season opener vs. Michigan State, went to overtime vs. Michigan

2021 Talent

2021 247Sports Composite Ranking: 42
ESPN Returning Production: 64% overall (82nd): 67% offense (74th), 61% defense (96th)
Returning Talent Index: Negative, 12th in Big Ten
Returning starters: 11/11 offense, 10/11 defense
* All rankings out of 130 FBS schools

Key Player

Quarterback: Noah Vedral Jr. (Senior)

Rutgers has a clear No. 1 quarterback heading into the 2021 season with Noah Vedral Jr. He started his career at UCF and transferred to Nebraska before landing at Rutgers. In his first season with the Scarlet Knights in 2020, he completed 61.5% of his passes for 1,253 yards with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. The passing game was not very effective as a whole, but there is reason to believe a better performance is coming in 2021.

Offense (non-QB): WR Bo Melton (Senior)

Bo Melton should see plenty of attention from opposing defensive coordinators, as he broke through with a very good season in 2021. In nine games, he set career highs with 47 passes, 638 yards and six touchdowns. Melton also carried the ball six times for 69 yards with a pair of rushing scores. Rutgers should do anything it can to get the ball to playmakers like Melton.

Defense: LB Olakunle Fatukasi (Senior)

Rutgers has a very good back seven with quality linebackers and secondary players. Linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi could have been selected in the early rounds of the NFL Draft, but he is back and should have another fantastic year defensively for the third consecutive season. Fatukasi recorded 90 tackles last season including 9.5 for loss with three sacks, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.

Team Stats Projections

2020 SP+ final: 101st overall: 105th offense, 84th defense, 34th special teams
2021 SP+ projection: 94th overall: 97th offense, 81st defense

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

To win national title: +50000
To win Big Ten: +8000
Win total: 4.5 (Over -125, Under +100)

2020 Against The Spread: 5-4-0
2020 Point Total: Over 5-4-0

2021 Rutgers Schedule

2021 Rutgers Football Schedule

Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Thursday, Sep. 2 Temple 6:30pm/BTN N/A from DK in New Jersey
Saturday, Sep. 11 at Syracuse 2:00pm/ACCN N/A from DK in New Jersey
Saturday, Sep. 18 Delaware 3:30pm/BTN N/A from DK in New Jersey
Saturday, Sep. 25 at Michigan 3:30pm/TBA N/A from DK in New Jersey
Saturday, Oct. 2 Ohio State TBA N/A from DK in New Jersey
Saturday, Oct. 9 Michigan State 12:00pm/TBA N/A from DK in New Jersey
Saturday, Oct. 16 at Northwestern 12:00pm/TBA N/A from DK in New Jersey
Saturday, Oct. 23 OPEN TBA N/A from DK in New Jersey
Saturday, Oct. 30 at Illinois TBA N/A from DK in New Jersey
Saturday, Nov. 6 Wisconsin TBA N/A from DK in New Jersey
Saturday, Nov. 13 at Indiana TBA N/A from DK in New Jersey
Saturday, Nov. 20 at Penn State TBA N/A from DK in New Jersey
Saturday, Nov. 27 Maryland TBA N/A from DK in New Jersey