Big Ten top rusher Kyle Monangai returns to Rutgers

Kyle Monangai makes a nice cut for a Rutgers TD (0:51)

Kyle Monangai gets the carry and makes a nice move for a score as Rutgers leads 24-0 vs. Northwestern. (0:51)

Tailback Kyle Monangai, the Big Ten's leading rusher in 2023, told ESPN on Monday that he plans to return to Rutgers in 2024 for a fifth season.

Monangai had a breakout year in 2023, starting all 12 games for the Scarlet Knights and earning second-team All-Big Ten honors from the media and from the coaches.

Monangai averaged 5.1 yards per carry in 2023 and scored seven touchdowns. He finished the season with 1,099 yards, which put him ahead of Michigan's Blake Corum (1,028) and Wisconsin's Braelon Allen (984).

Rutgers finished the season 6-6 and has a chance to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2014, the school's first season in the Big Ten. Rutgers plays Miami in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 28.

Rutgers took clear steps forward this season, registering wins over Northwestern, Michigan State, Virginia Tech and Indiana.

Monangai played a big role in Rutgers' improvement, gaining 165 yards in a blowout of Temple, 159 yards in a loss to No. 1 Ohio State and three touchdown runs in the 35-16 win over Virginia Tech.

The news of Monangai's return is the latest in a flurry of key players deciding to return to the school. Coming back from a defense that finished No. 19 nationally in total defense are linemen Aaron Lewis and Wesley Bailey and linebackers Tyreem Powell and Mohamed Toure.

Although not all decisions have been made, Rutgers is expected to return more than half of its defensive starters from one of the Big Ten's top defenses.

Rutgers' offensive identity was based in the ground attack, as Monangai was the first Rutgers back to rush for more than 1,000 yards since Jawan Jamison in 2012.