Q&A With Rutgers assistant Jeff Hafley

New Rutgers assistant coach Jeff Hafley talked to the media for the first time since being hired away from Pittsburgh last week. The New Jersey native speaks about what he views as the key to recruiting, what he will sell recruits on and what it is like being back in his home state and working at Rutgers. He also touched on his relationships at Don Bosco Prep, St. Peter's Prep and Bergen Catholic.

When Rutgers hired New Jersey native and recruiting extraordinaire Jeff Hafley last week, it energized the fan base after a disappointing 4-8 season.

On Thursday, Hafley, the former Pittsburgh assistant, spoke to the media for the first time since joining the Scarlet Knights.

He offered insight into his approach as a recruiter, his belief in returning his home state, and talked about Rutgers not only needing New Jersey's best to win a Big East title, but also a national championship.

Hafley still has not been assigned a position to coach, nor has his recruiting territory been officially drawn up. But after recruiting central Pennsylvania, North Jersey and helping former Pittsburgh assistant Tony Wise in South Jersey, it is safe to believe Hafley will have a strong presence in the Garden State.

Now, background aside, here is the Q&A with Hafley:

Is there a different dynamic recruiting Jersey kids to go out of state?
I think there's a different dynamic. I'm trying to convince them to come six hours away from their home, which was not easy to do. Now, I have to convince them to stay home to a great place. I'm a Jersey guy. They're Jersey guys. It should be easier to convince them to stay home and be around family and be around this great university.

You have a reputation as a great recruiter. How did you build that?
I think it's a matter of relationships. I believe recruiting is about relationships, and I believe it's about trust. The thing I always talk to these kids about is wanting to earn their trust, and not sell them, not lie to them and not false promise them. I think once I have the trust built in them, it develops a real relationship. That's the way I try to do things.

Did you start at Rutgers immediately?
I hit the ground running. I was at work Monday morning, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, full speed ahead. I was in the office pretty much all day and pretty much late at night to try and get organized and now we have some time off for the holidays.

How will your past relationships in New Jersey help you recruit to Rutgers?
I think it will help having a relationship. I think it's going to help being a Jersey guy. Kids see that I chose to come home to New Jersey. I think that says a lot. It's such a great place, and hopefully I can show them that.

What it is like being back home?
It's awesome. I can't tell you how fired up I am to work with coach Schiano. I was really fortunate to work for a great football coach in Dave Wannstedt, and maybe one of the best human beings I've ever been around. He had talked so highly of coach Schiano, and just in the time that I've got to know him, I'd say the same thing. Such a great guy, such a good human being that truly cares a lot about people.
I said this to coach when I met him: I'd been looking forward to having a conversation with coach Schiano for a long time. …I can't explain to you how happy I am.

Are you pushing any of the Pitt commits and de-commits toward Rutgers?
I talked to some of them. I talked to coach Schiano and the staff about some of them. If it's guys that they want, then I'll do my job the best that I can to try and make sure we show them Rutgers is a good fit for them.

Can you talk about the relationships you built with the staffs at Don Bosco Prep, St. Peter's Prep and Bergen Catholic?
They are schools that I spent a lot of time in the past three years, and the relationship that I've built with some of these coaches, some of these players, and even some of the players I had committed to Pitt and are actually at Pitt right now …I think that will all be very helpful. The thing that I said when I was recruiting at Pitt and people asked me what the deal was with New Jersey.
New Jersey high school football, in my opinion, might be the best in the country. And when I say that, I mean the best coached, the hardest coached. They love football here in New Jersey, and these coaches do such a great job, and I've been really fortunate these last three years to build some good relationships. Some of these coaches coached my in high school. Some of these coaches are guys I grew up with in high school, that a I played with in college. So, it's really special right now to be back.

How did you become a good recruiter?
I'm not sure. I think just hard work and listening to good people like Dave Wannstedt and another guy I G.A.'d with named Charlie Partridge, who is now at Wisconsin. I thought he was such a great recruiter, and I'd constantly go in his office when I was a G.A. and pick his brain and take notes and try to follow some of the things he was doing.
Just like in football, you've got to go out there and better yourself every year, as far as x's and o's and as far as scheme. Ya' know, what I try to do is get around those guys that I admire as great recruiters, and I try to ask questions and better myself every year in a professional development type of way.

Does your knowledge of New Jersey help with the 2012 and 2013 recruiting classes?
I think it will just help getting a little head start on things in this whole recruiting process because we know how fast it works right now. The biggest thing I can say with all this recruiting is, I'm a Jersey guy, coach Schiano is a Jersey guy. To be home and see what I've seen …one of the reasons I came here is I don't think we can just win a Big East championship at Rutgers. If you can keep the talent here, if you can keep the Jersey kids here, I think you can win a national championship. …I think we can get this done.

Scarlet Report Top Stories