Tariq Ahmad: The Guy Behind RU's Recruiting

Long before the commitments take place and the class is signed, Tariq Ahmad is organizing the mayhem of recruiting thousands of prospects. Ahmad has been the Rutgers' recruiting coordinator for 13 months, was instrumental in signing the Big East's top class in 2011 and has his hands in every aspect of the recruiting game, from planning the activities on visits to booking travel.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – On one wall of Tariq Ahmad's office is a map of Florida, on another there is a map of New Jersey and its surrounding areas.

The maps were not yet pierced, but give it another month, and there will be as many as 2,000 pins stuck into them, with each one representing a player Rutgers is recruiting in the current class.

The point man is Ahmad, who has been Rutgers' recruiting coordinator the last 13 months and was a key figure in the Scarlet Knights signing the Big East's top class in 2011.

"There's a sticky pin for every kid, and for coaches, so I know when they're out (on the road) and when their off," Ahmad said. "There's probably 2,000 pins. The higher kids, we actually put the names on the board."

If you're a high school player being recruited by Rutgers, or want to be recruited by Rutgers, Ahmad is the person to know. He organizes visits to campus, maps out the places coaches will go out recruiting and has knowledge of every kid in the Scarlet Knights' recruiting database.

In fact, when it comes to recruiting, anything that transpires from an organizational standpoint, Ahmad's finger prints are on it. NCAA rules prohibit him from coaching on the field and evaluating film, but when it comes to recruiting, Ahmad is coach Greg Schiano's right-hand man.

"It helps that we have a great coaching staff," Ahmad said. "It helps that our communication is good, there's a mutual respect for everyone on the staff and everyone's pretty much on the same page. It can be (hectic) when a flight gets canceled at 5 a.m., and you're trying to get someone somewhere in a snowstorm.

"Nothing is terribly difficult. It's just time-consuming. The key is organization, knowing where everyone is, where everyone needs to get to, and being organized and having a plan and looking way down into the future, thinking two years from now, thinking a year from now."

It sounds simple, but it is not.

While Rutgers was hosting Norfolk State in the season opener last year, prized running back recruit Savon Huggins and offensive line recruit Keith Lumpkin returned for a scrimmage in south Jersey and decided to catch the second half of the game.

So, Huggins said at the time they got in touch with Ahmad, who then hurried to make sure the players were on the gate list to get in.

"I communicate with the kids, but I'm more of an operational person," Ahmad said. "However, when they have questions with anything happening on the campus, they can reach out to me and I can answer any questions."

Ahmad has been with the program for a few years. He worked in player development, was a life skills coach, and assisted and mentored on the academic side.

But when former recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach Joe Susan accepted the head coaching position at Bucknell in January 2010, a few weeks later Ahmad was elevated to high-pressure position of recruiting coordinator.

"We have a great system here that's developed over the last 10 or 11 years," said Ahmad, who is from Holmdel, N.J., and played football, basketball and track at Ithaca College. "I'm not re-inventing the wheel. I took a lot of what coach Susan did because he was excellent as a recruiting coordinator."

Rutgers used to take recruits to the ESPN Zone in Times Square during official visits, but when it closed recently it meant Ahmad had to find another location to entertain the recruits on Saturday night during an official visit weekend.

"That was a process," Ahmad said. "We checked out a lot of places. We tried to check out everywhere we thought would be good, and we came up with a place we thought was the best."

After exploration of midtown Manhattan, the Lucky Strike Lanes became the destination, and recruits loved it.

"That was the best official (visit) for me, how they set it up and everything," Huggins said the day he announced he would attend Rutgers. "I've been to some pretty big schools, but that was the best one."

There is also the matter of recruiting areas, which at Rutgers is a fluid situation because of the philosophy of overlapping.

Each coach is responsible for a certain geographic area, like offensive line coach Kyle Flood in New York. But if the Scarlet Knights are recruiting a tight end in New York, tight ends coach Brian Angelichio will also recruit the player, just like a New York receiver will also be recruited by receivers coach P.J. Fleck.

"We want to be the best possible recruiting group we can be," Ahmad said. "So, everyone has their different expertise, and we try to think based upon where everyone's been in the past, and how we can be the best in the future. Coach Schiano has all the final calls on (assignments)."

Nothing in recruiting is more important than building relationships, and Ahmad said the staff does an incredible job with it.

"I think our coaches do an amazing job with that when they're in the school, or when the kids call us. They create great relationships, because that's what it comes down to, the relationship the kids have with the coaches, and the coaches have with their families, their coaches."

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