"Fantastic Friday" or "Frustrating Friday"?

It is a day that has all the build-up, excitement and drama of a late-season showdown between ranked opponents, and one comes to mind quickly. Rutgers will find out today whether St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City, N.J.) five-star running back Savon Huggins will chose Rutgers, North Carolia and Notre Dame. His press conference is set for 5 p.m., and regardless of the outcome, it will be memorble.

Fantastic Friday or Frustration Friday?

Take a pick because by early evening, Jan. 28, 2011, will be known by one of those monikers for many moons.

In trying to equate the buzz surrounding today's 5 p.m. announcement being made by St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City, N.J.) five-star running back Savon Huggins, and comparing it to the recruiting game, the morning and afternoon of Nov. 9, 2006, jumps into the mind.

(And that one worked out very well for the Scarlet Knights).

That was when Rutgers football exploded by making a scene on a national stage, rallying from a 25-7 deficit to beat No. 3 Louisville 28-25 on Jeremy Ito's 28-yard field goal.

It was the day Rutgers expectations rose, and the Scarlet Knights went from the same ‘ol Rutgers to the new brand of Rutgers. The Block "R" became as visible as a tail light, and the Scarlet Knights turned from a punch line to a puncher.

Traveling the country, it is still a game quickly talked about when Rutgers enters a conversation.

When the Scarlet Knights vaulted into the Top 10 after the historic win, the members of the 2011 recruiting class were impressionable eighth-graders.

It wasn't long after Huggins quietly moved onto the recruiting scene, and the Scarlet Knights were smart enough to recognize his talents early, and savvy enough to build a strong relationship long before any other programs knew Huggins existed.

From the beginning, Huggins always thought of Rutgers as a viable option.

Within the first month of becoming publisher of ScarletReport.com, I reached out to Huggins for a story.

Two things stayed with me from my initial interview with him.

First, he is smart and dedicated. He lives in Jackson and gets up at 5 a.m. to go to school, often doesn't get home until 8 p.m., and maintains a 3.5 GPA.

Second, was this quote: "I really wouldn't mind staying home.''

He showed it wasn't just a throwaway statement.

Through the unofficial visit tour of the summer and the official visits of the fall, Huggins was around the Rutgers program a lot. He went to the spring game last April instead of watching Usain Bolt run at the Penn Relays, where Huggins competed earlier in the day.

After playing in a scrimmage in south Jersey in early September, he hiked up to the Rutgers to watch the second half of the 2010 season opener against Norfolk State.

When Huggins made his official visit last weekend, it was honest. This wasn't Brian Toal giving a courtesy visit. It was Huggins getting his last, and most in-depth, look at the program.

In his last interview before his announcement, which he granted to ScarletReport.com, he talked about "trust" being a big factor in his decision.

He is always well-thought in his interviews, and has purpose behind everything he says.

So, why so much anticipation as the morning turns to afternoon?

Huggins is the caliber of athlete, both in stature and ability, Rutgers has never gotten. Ray Rice was a great, great running back, but his recruitment wasn't as intense, or as ballyhooed.

This isn't to say Huggins is Rutgers bound, or he is heading to Notre Dame or North Carolina, either.

That will be revealed during his announcement at St. Peter's Prep.

It is to say there is great excitement, and with that comes terrible anxiety, wonderful anxiety, as the clock ticks down on arguably the most important recruitment in Rutgers history.

Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano and his staff, the current players and the committed members of the 2011 class did everything they could to sway Huggins to Rutgers. That Rutgers is in it, and truly in it, to the end doesn't speak toward their efforts in recruiting him, though, but rather to the incredible progress the program has made.

The tipping point was the Louisville win.

Heading into that game, everyone realized life would go on even if Rutgers lost. The Scarlet Knights still would have been 8-1, nationally ranked, and it still would have been a benchmark season for the program.

But, oh, how much sweeter it was to storm the field and celebrate like a carefree 18-year-old.

Rutgers' recruiting class will be very good regardless of where Huggins goes. Just look at the commitment list. But think of the fun of cramming into the St. Peter's Prep library and storming the podium if Huggins dons a cap with a Block "R" on it?

Exactly.

It would certainly make for a Fantastic Friday.


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