May 25, 2024

Inside Greg Schiano naming Athan Kaliakmanis as Rutgers’ starting QB and giving Gavin Wimsatt time to transfer

The transfer portal was a few hours from closing, which meant that Rutgers was four hours from guaranteeing the presence of an experienced backup quarterback on the roster. That is a huge deal in Power Four college football, where a capable backup quarterback is a luxury in this NIL world.

Yet, there was Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano, sitting in the Hale Center’s football offices, discussing the direction that he was taking Rutgers’ offense with his two quarterbacks. Hours before the portal closed, he told the relevant parties that Minnesota transfer Athan Kaliakmanis won the starting job.

It meant that seasoned quarterback Gavin Wimsatt and his 19 starts, including all 13 last season, had a few hours to get things in order before the transfer portal closed. It does not open again until the late fall, so if Schiano delayed the meeting by a day, Wimsatt was locked in as a Scarlet Knight.

That is not how Schiano operates. Players would see through it. So would Wimsatt. And recruits. And parents. And NIL reps and high school coaches.

“Coach demands we keep it real with him all the time, and he keeps it real with us,” a source said. “That’s the culture he instilled.”

The move with Wimsatt comes with a potential cost of vulnerability in the fall.

Whoever wins Rutgers’ backup job — redshirt freshman Ajani Sheppard and his two career pass attempts and true freshman AJ Surace are the contenders, unless Wimsatt withdraws from the portal and stays — brings a wealth of inexperience with it.

The conversation with Wimsatt could have waited. The next day, week, month or training camp could have produced the same conversation, but with the assurance that Wimsatt would be on the roster. Schiano did not want to do that.

It is a decision built on experience with quarterback transfer decisions.