After a rocky start to the season, Rutgers quarterback Art Sitkowski and running back Raheem Blackshear have asked interim coach Nunzio Campanile to sit out the remainder of 2019 in order to take advantage of the NCAA's four-game redshirt rule. The adjustment to the redshirt rule, implemented ahead of the 2018 season, allows players to compete in as many as four games while preserving a year of eligibility.
Sitkowski has played in three games this season, while Blackshear has made four appearances for Rutgers.
The duo is following in the footsteps of Houston quarterback D'Eriq King and wide receiver Keith Corbin, who both also decided to sit out the remainder of the 2019 season after the Cougars' 1-3 start. Both Sitkowski and Blackshear asked Campanile not to play in Saturday's conference clash with Maryland after beginning their 2019 season at 1-3.
Campanile addressed the news after Saturday's loss, saying he was "disappointed" by their decisions but understood where they were coming from given the current NCAA climate.
Rutgers coach Chris Ash was fired last week, and the expectation from the players is likely that their next coach will push the program in a more successful direction -- or they can be more successful elsewhere. It is unclear whether either plan to transfer or stay at Rutgers, according to the Associated Press.
"Am I disappointed by it? Incredibly. Do I understand it? I guess so. I guess that's the way the world is now," Campanile told reporters Saturday. "I think that this is a game about your team, you know, and it's about sacrificing personal accomplishment for the success of the team. But that's the world they live in, and they have got a lot of people telling them, you know, 'Worry about you. Worry about you.' I get it."
Campanile first announced that Sitkowski, a sophomore, would sit out after Thursday's practice. Blackshear's decision followed; he is listed as a junior.
Saturday marked Campanile first game at the helm after he was elevated to interim coach after taking over for Ash. Without Sitkowski or Blackshear on the field, the Scarlet Knights fell to the Terrapins 48-7. The blowout loss brought the team to 1-4.