Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — So it’s only the beginning of camp but we thought it would be a good time to lay odds on the Rutgers quarterback battle, which ostensibly has five guys competing to be Mike Teel’s successor.
Here’s the breakdown
DOMENIC NATALEOdds on starting: 1-2Analysis: All indications are that Natale will be given every consideration to get the starting nod. He became the backup to Teel last year, was effective in that role and has earned high praise early from head coach Greg Schiano.Coach’s Quote: “Dom is a real cool customer. He understands the offense. He’s worked incredibly hard, just listening to the receivers. He and Jabu have both worked incredibly hard.”
JABU LOVELACEOdds: 3-1Analysis: Lovelace was Teel’s backup for two years before suffering a broken leg last year. A proven runner who was second on the team in rushing in 2007, Lovelace must demonstrate that he can throw the football effectively within the offense.
Coach’s Quote: “I do have confidence in him throwing. I think what this training camp is going to be is him making good decisions with the football. That’s not to say that he hasn’t done that, but that’s going to be the key.”
TOMMY SAVAGEOdds: 10-1Analysis: The 6-foot-5 Savage will play eventually, whether it’s this year or next remains to be seen. But he is clearly being groomed as the QB of the future. Right now, he’s saying all the right things and letting Schiano make the call.
Coach’s Quote:“[Becoming the starter is] an incredible amount of pressure on a freshman. Let’s just see how he does. If he gives us the best chance to win, then he’ll be playing.”D.C. JEFFERSONOdds: 15-1
Analysis: A year ago, the 6-6 Jefferson was being hailed as the QB of the future. Now, it’s Savage’s turn. Schiano can’t afford to lose Jefferson for next season, when he and Savage will likely battle for the job. That means the coach has to keep the big guy in the mix as much as possible this year.
Coach’s Quote: “He’s in the mix. He’s right in the middle of it.”
STEVE SHIMKOOdds: 100-1Analysis: Shimko worked with the backups Tuesday and appears to be the fifth-man on the totem pole in this race.
Coach’s Quote: Schiano hasn’t said a specific word about Shimko yet, which tells you all you need to know.
TWO-HEADED QB (Natale & Lovelace)Odds: 4-1
Analysis: Schiano has said he’d like to know who his starter is by the final scrimmage in August. With reigning Big East champ Cincinnati looming in the opener Sept. 7, it behooves the staff to get this figured out as quickly as humanly possible. That said, if a two-headed QB of Natale and Lovelace helps the team win, it could be a viable option.
Coach’s Quote: “However it plays out. I don’t have a pre-set, ‘We’re going to have one guy and that’s the way it’s gotta be.’ By no means do I feel that way.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.