Hafley Proud of Return to New Jersey

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Available to speak at Rutgers media day, defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley spoke with ScarletReport.com about his instant recruiting Sucrets at his new home. Hafley also discussed his passion for New Jersey football and thoughts on the state of the Rutgers secondary.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Talk to Jeff Hafley for more than a few seconds and you will see that his reputation as a master recruiter is well deserved.

From Hafley's passion, to his sincerity to his diction, Rutgers' first-year defensive backs coach made a major splash on the scene before he has even coached his first game on the Banks.

Recruiting Impact

Hafley joined the staff from Pittsburgh after Dave Wannstedt's postseason firing, In his first month on the job, Hafley was the harbinger for verbal commitments from the likes of Gary Nova, Paul Canevari Marquise Wright and Max Issaka.

In the Class of 2012, Hafley's name is all over the top commitments for Rutgers. Michael Giacone, Steve Longa, Davon Jacobs and Julian Pinnix-Odrick all cited their relationship with as a reason for commitment.

"I think recruiting is about relationships," Hafley said. "It's about getting to know these kids, getting to know their families, and not ‘BS-ing' and really having a true genuine interest in them as people.

"Forget football, because that's all anybody else wants to talk about is football. Everybody wants to talk football, football, football, football. I want to get to know the kids. I don't just want ‘how was your day?' I want to get to know them. I want to know what their families are like, their grandparents, their brothers, sisters, girlfriends, because I care. If I get to the point where I really like a kid and care about a kid, I want to know about a kid. Because that's what life's about, that's what recruiting is about and if you can get those kids to truly trust you, and you can earn that from them, it becomes special."

Hafley's greatest impact off the field is his relationship with the top recruits still on the board. Hafley and wide receivers coach P.J. Fleck combined forces in Leonte Carroo's commitment last weekend.

Carroo's teammates Darius Hamilton, Yuri Wright and Elijah Shumate all offer rave reviews of Hafley. As does Old Tappan quarterback Devin Fuller.

"Coach Hafley is still No. 1 with me," Fuller said of his recruiting coach at Rutgers. "He's just a great friend. We don't really talk about football at all right now. We talk about life. That's what I like most about those guys is they care about you more than as just a football player."

Top recruits embrace the "life and not just football" attitude offered by Hafley. But the defensive backs coach said recruiting success does not begin with the assistant coaches, but with the Rutgers itself.

"You have to work for a good university firstly," Hafley said on what makes a good recruiter. "I'm fortunate enough to work for a great coach and a great school. Our staff does an awesome job.

"The thing that people fail to do sometimes is give a guy like [director of recruiting operations] Tariq Ahmad credit. That guy is unbelievable. I mean, he does such a good job keeping us organized, that him and his staff make it easy for us. We just go out and build relationships."


A Montvale, N.J., native, Hafley was ecstatic to land a job in his home state after five years in Pittsburgh. One of three Pitt coaches that moved to Greg Schiano's staff, Hafley said he is happy to be home.

"It's awesome to be here," said Hafley, who began coaching defensive backs in the spring. "Everybody keeps wanting to know how it is being here for me, I mean it doesn't get much better. It's home. I'm from New Jersey. I get a chance to coach in New Jersey. I'm around my family. Coach Schiano has been outstanding. The staff's been great. Every day, I look forward to coming to work. I love being here. I love it all."

Keeping things in New Jersey is a common theme among recruits and a common sales pitch for members of the Rutgers recruiting staff.

Hafley leads by example.

"This is where I want to be," Hafley said. "It's where I'm from and it's where they're from. I think, and I hope, a lot of Jersey people have a lot of pride in where they're from. I think it's a great place. I think the high-school football is some of, if not the best, football in the country. I think it's coached better than a lot of high schools in a lot of states."

X's and O's

As a Big East assistant coach, Hafley knew plenty about the secondary inherited upon his hiring.

While with Pittsburgh, Hafley saw the Rutgers secondary at its worst, like in last year's 41-21 loss. But he also saw the secondary at its best, like in 2007 when Devin McCourty picked off Pitt quarterback Pat Bostic in the end zone to secure a win on Senior Day.

"I said this to the DBs in a meeting the other day: Whenever I watched film, whenever we played Rutgers [at Pittsburgh], the one thing we always knew about the defense was that the offense was going to get hit," Hafley said. "And those guys on defense were going to run to the ball. They are relentless. They are smart. I told them I was so excited to get a chance to coach them because of the way they play. It's been a lot of fun."

Hafley's time in Pittsburgh was a significant learning experience, he said. Hafley credits the Pittsburgh staff with his development as a coach, but also named one of his players as his greatest teachers — Darrelle Revis.

"It was my first year at Pitt and I learned a lot from him," Hafley said. "I'd never been around a guy like him, who competed like he did on the field. Every play in practice, every play counted. Every play mattered. He's just the biggest competitor, one of the hardest working guys, a great kid. It's fun to watch him. He does such a great job now. Obviously he is one of the best, if not the best, in the whole National Football League and he's a great person."

Revis, now one of the highest paid and most heralded players in the NFL, has many similar qualities to the current members of the Rutgers secondary, Hafley said.

"The way these guys approach a game and the way they approach practice, they get after it," Hafley said. "It's just like Darrelle at Pitt. It is important to them. I get so excited and so passionate about watching them in the meeting room and having them ask questions and watching them on the field. They are smart, they care, they work hard, they ask questions. It is a great group. It is a special group."

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