Recruiting Reset: Linebackers

The spring evaluation period is winding down and the camp circuit is about to hit overdrive. So views it as the perfect time for its "Recruiting Reset" package. Today's piece looks at the linebacker unit.

Although Saddle Brook (N.J.) High's Steve Longa didn't receive a Rutgers offer until April 19, his development in the offseason and his athleticism quickly vaulted him to the must-get category for linebackers on the Scarlet Knights' depth chart.

So, now that the weak side linebacker is part of the 2012 class, attention turns to landing two more linebackers in the class, with the preference of one being on the strong side and one being in the middle.

One potential player is off the boards in Dan Mastromatteo of Holy Spirit High (Absecon, N.J.), who was being recruited to play in the middle, but one higher on Rutgers' board is Nyeem Wartman of Valley View High (Archbald, Pa.).

Wartman made a late April visit to campus, and by the time he left he had the Scarlet Knights in a top five that also included North Carolina State, Penn State, Florida and Boston College. Proximity to home could be a factor in Wartman's decision, which could put Rutgers in good shape.

Also in the middle is one of New Jersey's top linebackers in Quanzell Lambert of Timber Creek Regional (Erial), who remains high on the Scarlet Knights because of the academic reputation of the school, his relationship with the coaching staff and the location, although Penn State could be a huge factor in his recruitment.

When it comes to strongside linebacker, a pair of intriguing options may reside in-state in Elijah Shumate of Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey) and D.J. Singleton of St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City).

Shumate is playing safety for Don Bosco, but his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame suggests he can be a very good strongside linebacker in college. Singleton played safety last season, and it is his preferred position in college, but he will play linebacker for the Marauders in the fall.

Homestead (Fla.) High's James Burgess is an option, but the Scarlet Knights will have to make up ground with ex-Rutgers player Eric Foster's cousin after a recent top five did not include the Scarlet Knights.

Another Florida product, Eric Kinsey of Chaminade Madonna High (Hollywood, Fla.), could play on the defensive line or at strongside linebacker. He is the cousin of former Rutgers receiver Tim Brown, and is planning a trip to camp at Rutgers at the end of the month.

Another New Jersey option is Don Bosco Prep's Mike Strizak, who has made several trips to Rutgers and speaks highly of the program.

There are other linebackers remaining in the background, including Sam Lebbie of DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) , although Rutgers has pulled back on him severely, Vin Ascolese of North Bergen (N.J.) High and Ey'Shawn McClain of Raines High (Jacksonville).

Two linebackers Rutgers has virtually stopped recruiting are Jazzmar Clax of Freehold Boro (N.J.) High and T.J. Neal of McKeesport (Pa.) High.

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