Huggins' Decision Excites Recruits

JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- When running back Savon Huggins announced he will attend Rutgers, it didn't just mean the Scarlet Knights brought in their first first-star recruit. It excited the recruiting base, and could wind up blazing a trail for the next few classes in New Jersey.

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Miles Shuler said he was "hopping up and down" at his track meet. Keith Lumpkin saw his parents waving their arms and cheering in the stands during his basketball game.

And Mike Bimonte was stuck on a spur of the New Jersey Turnpike, frustrated and trying to figure out what was happening.

Across the tightly-knit group of Rutgers commitments, players were anxious to hear where five-star running back Savon Huggins was heading, and overjoyed to learn through various methods the St. Peter's Prep star was staying home and playing at Rutgers.

"This thing with Savon committing means a Big East championship," said Shuler, a four-star Long Branch High product. "Oh, my gosh. This is great. I can't wait for the season to start. I cannot wait."

Shuler celebrated Huggins' commitment by running the 55 meters in 5.43 seconds.

"This is huge for the future, the 2012 class," Shuler said. "People are going to start jumping on board and coming to Rutgers. They know it's ok to stay home and come to Rutgers."

Lumpkin, the 6-foot-8, 265-pound four-star offensive tackle from St. Peter's Prep and one of Huggins' closest friends, was trying to concentrate on his game at nearby Ferris High when news of Huggins' decision reached the gym.

"He wouldn't tell me. He kept saying, I'm gonna shock everybody. I'm gonna shock everybody,' " Lumpkin said. "I was talking to him on the phone and all he kept saying was ‘I'm wearing blue. I'm wearing blue.' Then, I thought he was going to North Carolina.

"My parents and a couple other parents started cheering, because everyone around here is a Rutgers fan. They want us to go to Rutgers and excel, and build the program. Once I saw them jumping and cheering, I knew he was going there."

After the Marauders won 70-59, Lumpkin, with his uniform still on under his gray sweats, hustled to the school library to join the celebration.

"This makes it better not for this year, but next year, and the next year," Lumpkin said. "It's showing all the Jersey kids we can stay home and build our own dynasty in our own backyard."

Bimonte, a quarterback from Manalapan High, was a late arrival after being stuck in traffic a few miles from exit 14C. Upon his arrival at St. Peter's Prep, he quickly sought out Huggins, where the two embraced and talked about winning at Rutgers.

"He's the highest rated recruit we've ever had at Rutgers," Bimonte said. "He's a program changer. A running back is a quarterback's best friend, so I can't wait to play for him. I'm so happy."

Huggins' decision to stay home not only gives Rutgers the top recruit in the state, but means the Scarlet Knights have commitments from four of the top 10 players, and nine of the top 30 players.

Also, the No. 7-rated player in the state, Marquise Wright, a four-star defensive tackle from Paramus Catholic, is also very high on the Scarlet Knights.

"I think this year will end up being a turning year in terms of recruiting-wise, because this is the year that shows the best kids in Jersey will stay in Jersey," Bimonte said. "That's all Rutgers ever needed, the best kids in Jersey to stay home."

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