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After seeing his first college practice Tuesday, and after building relationships with the coaching staff over the last six months, Rumson-Fairhaven (N.J.) High's Elijah McAllister's view on Rutgers is evolving.
The 6-foot-6, 215-pound McAllister was always interested in the Scarlet Knights, but his intrigue is growing. His latest visit, which came Tuesday, brought him closer to the program, and furthered his relationships with the coaching staff.
"I've definitely warmed up to them, just out of respect," said McAllister, who is being recruited as a tight end and defensive end. "They are leaving (the position) up to me, and I'm not really sure, myself. It really doesn't matter, as long as I'm out there helping the team out."
McAllister's offer list includes Boston College, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Maryland and Temple, where he is visiting Thursday, and Stanford is waiting to evaluate him in the fall after his recovery from ACL surgery.
Because of the uncertainty coming off of his surgery, McAllister is waiting until the fall to make decisions about leaders. So he is in the exploratory stages of his recruitment, and Rutgers made a big impression.
"Apparently, it was their first practice outside after being in the bubble for a few weeks, so they had a lot of energy," McAllister said. "The offense looked very good. I was happy about that. Obviously, last year they had some offensive woes. This year the offense is going to be moving in the right direction. They looked good running and throwing the ball. I was surprised about that.
"I spent time in the positional meetings. I went to the defensive line meeting with (defensive line) coach (Shane) Burnham. I learned some nice stuff watching their pass rushing drills. They are very energized. Coach Burnham has them fired up. I went to the tight ends meeting with (tight ends) coach (Vince) Okruch, and it's a position they are going to need production out of this year and I hope they get it."
The day included a pair of meetings with coach Chris Ash.
The two sat down before practice, and they met again after it was over.
"He wanted to make sure I knew I was still No. 1 on their board and they're going to keep recruiting me hard," McAllister said. "He was saying he was excited for the season, and the guys were getting better every day, and they're going to have a better season than last year. He's excited for it. He's excited to see what these two recruiting classes he's had can do on the field."
McAllister, who plays 30 minutes from the Rutgers campus, watched the Scarlet Knights struggle in Ash's first season.
"I kind of knew what was going to happen the first year with guys he didn't really recruit," McAllister said. "He's playing in the Big Ten. It's not like he's playing in a (lesser) conference. You're in the Big Ten. You're playing against national powers. I knew it wasn't going to be easy in the first year.
"I respect him for staying and respect other coaches that did stay and are staying for the process. Some coaches got up and left, but I respect those coaches who stayed and continued to recruit and are trying to be a good program."