When Dave Wannstedt and his staff left Pittsburgh, Cignetti called Huggins to wish him well in recruiting.
Then, a few days ago, Cignetti and Huggins spoke again, and it was with a much different tenor. Cignetti was named Rutgers' offensive coordinator Monday afternoon, but his move to the Scarlet Knights' staff was done before that.
And when asked if Cignetti's hire helps Rutgers' chances in the recruitment of the 5-fooot-11, 190-pounder, Huggins answered it candidly.
"It actually does," Huggins said. "When I was going to Rutgers and watching them play, they were actually giving the ball to the receivers something like 25 times a game. And even though you need a running game, and maybe the running backs weren't (playing the best), you still work with what you had.
"That kind of left things sitting the wrong way with this program. I talked to the coaches about it, and I guess they tried to make a decision that is best for them."
His two remaining visits are to Michigan State (Jan. 14) and Rutgers (Jan. 21), with an announcement date set for Jan. 28.
And in that time Huggins will not have to foster a relationship with Cignetti, but rather continue building on an already strong one while also working with new Rutgers assistant Jeff Hafley, also a former Pittsburgh assistant.
"Hafley was my recruiter, but (Cignetti) was recruiting me the whole time Pitt was recruiting me," Huggins said. "We talked every day. He emailed me every day, every morning, and we built a relationship. He gave me a call about three weeks and he said, ‘I just want to wish you the best of luck wherever you go.' Even though he got fired …he's a real good guy."
During a visit to St. Peter's Prep, Cignetti showed Huggins how Pittsburgh would use him, and Huggins believes it is the same as the Scarlet Knights would use him now.
"He was showing me the breakdown of different running backs between (Jahvid) Best and Dion (Lewis) and (Ryan Mathews). He told me about that. He broke it down in powerpoint. He said, ‘this is where you could be. This is where I've got these players at and look where they're progressing to now.'
"He told me I could be the focal point of the recruiting class, and now he's trying to get me on board at Rutgers. Hafley is as well."
Huggins also likes the way Cignetti helped develop Best at Cal and Mathews at Fresno State, who were both first-round draft picks, as well as Lewis at Pittsburgh.
"He coached some of the best players," Huggins said. "He coached Jahvid Best, the running back at Fresno State, so he had a whole plan. Even when he got up to the school (at St. Peter's), he had a whole plan set up for me when he was at Pitt. I really liked that about him."