Fall Ball Focus: Flurry of Transfers Bolster Rutgers Roster

PHOTO BY RICH BARNES

Ross Scott led Rutgers with 75 points (50 goals) on its run to the final four in May.


Brian Brecht has made a habit of sending the Rutgers men’s lacrosse team on trips every few years — whether it’s the trek to Gettysburg to check out the battlefield to see what men of their age were doing in 1863, or the trip to New York City to help his men network and kickstart their careers.

With each trip, Brecht and his players learn something new about themselves. Last spring, it wasn’t the battlefield nor the city where the Scarlet Knights were most reflective. In May, Rutgers headed to Hartford, Conn., to compete in the program’s first final four — an experience still fresh in the minds of those who returned to Piscataway this fall.

Rutgers learned that lacrosse can have sustained success on the banks.

“When you have some of the success that our program has had over the last couple of years, due to some of the alumni that have paved the way, it makes these guys very hungry and humble to get out there and continue what we’ve been doing,” Brecht said. “Now we have a lot of older guys in our locker room that are a big part of practices, with all that experience.”

With a handful of veterans from last spring’s final four team graduated, Rutgers will look to new leaders to continue the positive momentum built over the last five seasons. Ross Scott and Shane Knobloch become the two biggest threats for the Scarlet Knights and two of the best players in the Big Ten.

LAST SEASON

Rutgers made the NCAA tournament for the second straight season, this time advancing to its first final four in school history. Although the Scarlet Knights could not get past Cornell, they made history en route to a 15-4 record.







BIGGEST FALL QUESTION

Who steps up in the Rutgers midfield?

The midfield was one of the Scarlet Knights’ biggest strengths last season, but gone are Mitch Bartolo, Ronan Jacoby and Brian Gallagher. Bartolo and Jacoby were second and third, respectively, on the team in total points last season.

Luckily for Rutgers, Knobloch had a breakout 2022 season and emerges as one of the top threats in the Big Ten. David Sprock, who tallied 27 points in 2021, is back from injury to aid the midfield. Transfers like Noah Daniels (Mount St. Mary’s) and Ryan Decker (Colgate) should step into big roles in 2023.

MARQUEE ADDITIONS: ANTHONY PALMA AND KYLE MULLIN

Colin Kirst’s graduation left a big hole in the cage for Rutgers. How do you replace an All-American that fueled a run to the final four?

Brecht was busy building another strong transfer class, bringing in a pair of starters on competitive teams in Palma (Stony Brook) and Mullin (Harvard). The competition will now center around two goalies that saved over 50 percent of their shots last season.

BREAKOUT CANDIDATE: LAJOHN JONES JR.

With the absence of a few difference makers on defense, including All-American Jaryd Jean-Felix, there will be plenty of opportunities for new names to step up. Jones Jr., a senior transfer from Bryant, tallied 31 caused turnovers and 51 ground balls in just two seasons playing for the Bulldogs. He played a major role on a team that advanced to the NCAA tournament last year and has a chance to make an impact in Piscataway.

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