New Jersey is filled with promising 2015 recruits, and one of the emerging running backs in the Garden State is Monmouth Junction (South Brunswick) athlete Dontae Strickland, a 5-foot-11, 176-pound two-way star. Strickland just finished his junior campaign with a 34-13 victory on Thanksgiving day, rushing for 179 yards and two touchdowns while recording a pick on defense. For the season, he rushed for 1,033 yards and 12 scores, and at cornerback racked up 50 tackles, two interceptions and an interception return for a touchdown.
"It was a good year all the way around," Strickland said. "We lost in the semifinals last week, but we won the Thanksgiving game, so that was good. I had a good year personally, too, though I'm still working to get better."
Strickland has already picked up a pair of offers from Temple and Virginia and has received plenty of interest throughout the fall. He said coaches from Maryland, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Rutgers, N.C. State, Miami, Penn State and Florida State have contacted him via Facebook. Several of them, such as the Terps, Yellow Jackets, Nittany Lions and Hokies are eager to get him on campus for a visit.
Strickland said Maryland assistant Keith Dudzinski wanted him to attend the Terps' game against Boston College, but he was unable to attend due to his playoff schedule.
"Coach Keith, he talks to me daily on Facebook about the team and just trying to get me down there," Strickland said. "He said Maryland needs help at running back, and he likes my vision, speed and how I'm a leader on and off the field."
The Jersey back went on to say that with his season over he'll most likely take a trip to College Park, Md., in addition to a few other schools.
"Maryland, I liked their team this year and how they're going to be battling some of the top teams in the nation in the Big Ten," Strickland said. "And I look a lot at the depth chart and there's a good chance I could play pretty early there. If Maryland offered they'd be one of my top schools."
The Terps are just one place he'll be checking out this winter, though. Strickland mentioned Georgia Tech, Penn State, Ohio State, Virginia and Virginia Tech as others that should be getting visits in the coming months. He said a Hokies assistant sent him a personal, hand-written letter asking him to come to Blacksburg, so Strickland is thinking hard about that trip.
"Georgia Tech's coach talks to me all the time on Facebook too," said Strickland, who has only been to Rutgers, a school he likes being in his backyard, so far. "They're recruiting a kid from my school already, and [the coach] said if I came out there I'd probably get an offer. He said the offense they run, the triple option, is just like the one we have in high school.
"Then N.C. State, their coaches always hit me, Miami, Rutgers, Virginia, they all hit me pretty much every day [on Facebook]."
Though Strickland doesn't have any early standouts, even among the two schools that have offered him, he is hoping for a couple verbals. He said Alabama, which has sent letters, would be a dream, while he'd love to secure scholarships from Florida State, Ohio State, Miami, Georgia Tech and Maryland as well.
"It would be real cool to get those," Strickland said. "I like what I'm hearing from those schools."
In January, Strickland will undoubtedly draw even more interest at the Under Armour All-American bowl in San Antonio, Texas. He and his friend, Myles Hartsfield, are planning to attend and showcase their skills.
"It's an honor to be one of the few kids in New Jersey picked for that," Strickland said. "Me and Myles, we're looking to represent and show what we're about."
Garden State Star Wants to See Maryland
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