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QB Athan Kaliakmanis Selected as Rutgers Starter

Coach Greg Schiano and quarterback, Athan Kaliakmanis during Rutgers annual spring football game at SHI Stadium.
© Chris Pedota, / USA TODAY NETWORK

Rutgers returned to the football field at the Scarlet-White spring game on April 27 with coach Greg Schiano hoping to have clearer picture of who the Scarlet Knights would be starting at quarterback in 2024.

After the game, which was won by the Scarlet team 30-24, Schiano had found his starter in Minnesota transfer Athan Kaliakmanis but it came at the cost of losing valuable experience in the quarterback room after 2023 starting quarterback Gavin Wimsatt announced he was entering the tranfser portal, eventually landing at Kentucky.

Wimsatt, Kaliakmanis Go Head-to-Head

In the annual spring game, the two quarterbacks were pitted against each other with Wimsatt leading the Scarlet team and Kaliakmanis leading the White team.

Thanks to 2 touchdowns on the ground and another through the air, Wimsatt led his team to the victory, but Kaliakmanis proved to be the more accurate of the two quarterbacks by completing 10-of-17 of his passes for 147 yards and 2 touchdowns on the day.

"The spring was awesome," Kaliakmanis said after the game. "It was extremely fun. Seeing the improvements from day one to day 15, it's really cool to see and see how everyone's developed."

Prior to announcing Kaliakmanis as the starter and Wimsatt entering the transfer portal, Schiano said he was comfortable with the quarterback room but was aware things change quickly in this day in age of college football.

“I think our quarterback room is as strong as it’s ever been in all my years as the head coach here at Rutgers,” Schiano said in an interview with the Big Ten Conference Network on April 30. “I know it is a very fluid thing when you talk about college personnel, because there is a transfer portal, there is NIL, there are all those things that make it that way. So what you do is you literally take it day-by-day. You have a plan but you got to be ready to adjust. I feel good about Athan, I feel good about Gavin and I feel good about our other two quarterbacks as well. We have some depth at the position, but you don’t know how long that lasts all the time.”

In his first full season as the starter for Minnesota in 2023, the former Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year led the Gophers toa 6-7 season where he completed 53.1 percent of his passes for 1,838 yards, and had 14 touchdowns to 9 interceptions.

Wimsatt, who entered the portal on May 1 and chose Kentucky on May 7, led the Scarlet Knights to a 7-6 overall record in his first full season as the starter in 2023 and led Rutgers to a 31-24 win against the Miami Hurricanes in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Waiting in the Wings

With Wimsatt's transfer, Shciano's quarterback room heading into 2024 will consist of Kaliakmanis, redshirt freshman Ajani Sheppard, true freshman AJ Surace and sophomore walk-on Colin O'Sullivan. Sheppard will serve as Kaliakmanis' backup heading into the fall.

Schiano said he was happy to see young players get some experience in front of the Rutgers faithful.

"The spring game is not always a great indicator of all that’s transpired," he said. "We have 14 practices where it is really ultra-competitive. Then the spring game is I would say more for the fans, for the young players to get used to playing in the stadium with some fans. For some guys, that was by far the biggest crowd they’ve ever played in front of. It’s great to do that when it doesn’t count."


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