Does Former 4-Star QB Hayden Rettig Have What It Takes to Elevate Rutgers?

Ben KerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterJune 13, 2014

USA Today

Hayden Rettig didn't sign with Rutgers out of high school, but he's the highest-rated quarterback "commit" for the Scarlet Knights since Tom Savage.

Which, if anyone followed Savage's career path from Rutgers to Arizona to Pitt, may not be a ringing endorsement. Still, Rettig and the Scarlet Knights could be a nice marriage, especially in light of Minnesota transfer Philip Nelson's dismissal from the team.

The former 4-star prospect from Los Angeles announced he was leaving LSU late last month after being buried on the depth chart. 

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports was the first to report that Rettig was heading to Rutgers, with Jim Kleinpeter of The Times-Picayune confirming as much. 

"Great place, great people, great education, going after a Big 10 championship," Rettig wrote in a text to The Times-Picayune.

Rettig already has his eyes on a title, which raises the question: Is Rettig the missing piece to elevate Rutgers to that level?

First and foremost, Rutgers needs stability in its quarterback situation. Gary Nova, who battled off and on with Chas Dodd for two seasons, will be a senior in 2014. Rettig will sit this season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, putting him in a good position to compete for the starting job in '15. 

As Bleacher Report's Tyler Donohue tweeted, Rettig had an impressive senior season and came into college with a lot of hype:

Rettig just couldn't break through, though. That happens when there's stiff competition. No one was dethroning Zach Mettenberger last season, and early enrollee Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings were also 4-star prospects who signed within a year of each other. 

That's a lot of talent at a position where there's not a lot of room for playing time. The Tigers haven't announced a starting quarterback yet, but Harris seems primed to take the reins of Cam Cameron's offense. 

Rutgers just hasn't had that level of talent at quarterback lately. That doesn't automatically mean Rettig is the guy, but transfers like these aren't as likely to materialize if there isn't a good chance for playing time. 

Rettig had choices, after all. Feldman reported that Rettig picked the Scarlet Knights over Boston College, Cal, Tennessee and Louisville.

Seth Wenig/Associated Press

But nobody really knows how Rettig is going to do at the college level. Not even Rutgers. Sure, head coach Kyle Flood has a good feeling about Rettig, otherwise he wouldn't have brought him on the team. 

What Rutgers is hoping is that Rettig is the missing piece for a championship-caliber team. The problem is Rutgers isn't a championship-caliber team in the Big Ten. At least, not with the way recruiting has gone the past couple of years.  

The Scarlet Knights are in a stacked division, the Big Ten East, which features Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State. Within the next few years, Rutgers has to surpass all of those teams for Rettig's Big Ten championship hopes to come to fruition. 

Recruiting Rutgers has been a challenge since Flood took over the program. The Knights hauled in top-30 classes in 2011 and '12, but have failed to rank higher than 50th the past two seasons. 

(For context, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State, in that order, hauled in the top four classes in the Big Ten this past signing period.) 

Soon, those sophomores and juniors from '11 and '12 are going to depart. Flood and his coaching staff have to crush it on the recruiting trail, and the start to the 2015 class hasn't been promising (11th in the Big Ten, 57th nationally). 

This isn't to say Rutgers will never win a Big Ten game or pull an upset, but recruiting does need to pick up. Rettig appears to be a solid addition, but he can't be the bright spot on an otherwise so-so team. 

B/R's Michael Felder wrote in February that there's no such thing as an average recruiting class. There's a lot of truth to that, since schools recruit for different needs/goals on a year-to-year basis. Recruiting is also an inexact science.

If Big Ten titles are on the agenda, though, it's an uphill climb if a program ranks at or near the bottom of a conference in recruiting on a consistent basis. 

With Rettig's career on a to-be-determined path and Rutgers' lackluster recruiting efforts, it's just hard to see the Scarlet Knights as a Big Ten title contender at the moment. 


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports