It’s déjà vu all over again for the beleaguered Rutgers football program.
Earlier this week, it was confirmed that Artur Sitkowski, expected to start at quarterback for RU vs. Maryland this weekend, has instead decided to sit that one out — and possibly the rest of them as well — as he decides how he wants the remainder of the season to play out. With kickoff less than an hour away, it’s now being reported by nj.com that one of Sitkowski’s teammates, running back Raheem Blackshear, will not play this weekend and could take a redshirt for the 2019 season.
Blackshear has played in four games; if he plays in one more, he wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the revamped redshirt rule put into place prior to last season that allows players to play in up to four games in a season without losing a year of eligibility.
That rule was originally intended to allow coaches to give younger players game experience without burning an entire year of eligibility. While it’s done just that, and in an unforeseen consequence on the coaching side of the equation, it’s also allowed healthy, productive, starting members of teams to shut it down after four games (or sooner) while contemplating a move to another school the following season.
This latest move, which comes in the wake of head coach Chris Ash being fired, is a significant blow for a limp Rutgers offense that can ill afford it.
After leading the Scarlet Knights in rushing a year ago, Blackshear was second this season with 88 yards. More notably, he is by far the team’s leading receiver with 310 yards and two touchdowns on 29 catches.