PISCATWAY, NJ—Things have been looking up for Rutgers football under new head coach Chris Ash, but Scarlet Knights fans were hit with some bad news on January 11, as quarterback Anthony Russo announced he has decommitted from the program.
“I want to first thank CHOPnation for the continued love and support for the 8 months I have been committed there,” Russo wrote in a statement released on his Twitter page.
“The relationships and memories I have with Rutgers is something I will forever cherish. The past few weeks praying and sitting down with my family, we have decided that it is in my best interest to decommitt from Rutgers University.”
Russo concluded by saying he will not be answering any questions or taking any interviews at this time.
Russo was viewed by many as the top commit in Rutgers’ 2016 recruiting class.
The signal caller from Archbishop Wood, a private school in Pennsylvania has a three-star composite ranking by recruiting site 247Sports. However, an argument could be made that, lately, Russo has looked more like a four-star recruit.
In July, Russo turned heads when he took part in "The Opening," an annual competition hosted by Nike that showcases many of the top high school players in the nation.
At the end of the event, Russo was named to the “Elite 11”, which recognizes the top 11 senior quarterback recruits in the nation.
No reason was given for Russo’s sudden decommitment, but it is possible Russo did not wish to move forward with the program without former head coach Kyle Flood, who recruited the quarterback in the first place.
It is also possible Russo felt he would not be a fit in the Scarlet Knights’ new offensive scheme.
Under Flood, Rutgers ran a traditional, pro-style offense, similar to the one Russo has been a part of in high school.
When putting together his coaching staff, new coach Chris Ash brought in Houston wide receivers coach Drew Mehringer as Rutgers’ new offensive coordinator.
Mehringer is expected to install a spread offense at Rutgers, similar to the one that he was a part of at Houston.
Spread offenses typically call for a mobile, dual-threat quarterback who can run the ball as well as pass. Russo may have felt he wouldn’t be a fit in such an offense, and decided to look elsewhere.
Rutgers was one of the first teams to show interest in Russo, bringing him in for a visit in November 2014.
They offered Russo a scholarship in March 2015, and after two more visits, Russo announced his commitment to Rutgers on May 18 of last year.
In addition to Rutgers, Russo also received offers from Temple, UConn, Buffalo, Monmouth and Bucknell.
After the attention he gained following his strong showing at The Opening, expect several programs to try and land a verbal commitment from Russo before February’s National Signing Day.
It is common for recruits to decommit following a coaching change, and Rutgers has been no exception. Russo is the sixth 2016 recruit to decommit from the Scarlet Knights since Flood’s dismissal.
Ash still has a few weeks to build on the current 12-man recruiting class before National Signing Day, which takes place on Wednesday, February 3.