Q&A with Recruiting Coordinator Tariq Ahmad

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers recruiting coordinator Tariq Ahmad is one of the primary players behind the scenes when it comes to National Signing Day. After the announcement of the Rutgers 2014 class, Ahmad spoke about his take on the Rutgers haul and offered details in the trenches and at quarterback.

How much hard work paid off for the staff today?

"Time is going to tell. I think when you look at this class five years from now, four years from now, it's going to be a very good class. It's nice seeing the culmination of all of the hard work."

What stands out about this class?

"I'd say the line. I'm really excited about the potential of the offensive linemen and the defensive linemen. They're big. They're strong. I think they're athletic. I think you'll see that over the course of the years."

How important is that going into the Big Ten?

"It's huge. You have to be able to hold up. You have to be able to run the football. You have to be able to protect the quarterback. You have to be able to stop the run and put pressure on the quarterback to have success in that league, so that's something we'll have to invest in. We've invested in it this year, and we'll have to do that in the future."

How quickly did the new coaches catch on to recruiting? How much did they impact the final stretch?

"Very quickly. I'm very, very happy with all of the new coaches. I think you have three coordinators, you've got three great personalities – people that have had success doing it – and I think they'll prove to be very, very successful in the future."

What changes in recruiting going into the Big Ten?

"We do want to get larger. We want to get more athletic, but that's what you always want. You always want to be bigger, more athletic, faster, stronger. We did have success finding those people. We found it if you look at the body types of larger people for all of the line positions and defensive line positions. … You always want to be bigger, faster and more athletic."

But that's not the blueprint necessarily for the Big Ten?

"Not necessarily, but in theory that's what we are always looking for."

Do you have to adapt in recruiting in the types of players and styles that you look for?

"To a point, yes. You have to make sure that what you are recruiting fits the style of play in your conference. That doesn't change finding good people. That doesn't change finding strong academic students and very good football players. All of those are key characteristics."

Why such a small number of New Jersey recruits? Was that by design or by happenstance?

"We're really happy with the kids we've got from New Jersey. We're really happy with the kids we've got from out of state. Our goal is to recruit the best players that will fit what we do."

How did the staff find a quarterback like Giovanni Rescigno so late in the process?

"A lot of work was put into that. We divided up essentially most of the country and found the best quarterbacks in every single state. [We found] the best statistically and evaluated every single one and came up with our list and went after them aggressively."

Who found Rescigno?

"The recruiting staff in general and then the coaches."

What can you say about Rescigno specifically?

"He's all of 6-foot-3, 240 pounds. He has very good feet, moves well in the pocket. He'll be able to step up and run when he has to. He'll be able to avoid the rush. He's got above-average arm strength. He'll be able to make all of the throws on the field. He's got very nice touch, a nice release. He has great potential to become a very, very good player being that he only started for one year. He has tremendous upside."

Is it weird that he didn't have many offers?

"No because if you look at the number of BCS quarterbacks that have signed, going into their senior year, almost every school is filled up. Quarterback is a position where you don't really go out and find and take a second one if you're not risking the first one. If you really look at the number of teams that were still looking for a quarterback, there were very, very few."

When did he first pop up?

"Midway through the season. I want to say someone emailed us about him at some point. I want to say his coach did. That's when he got onto the board. When we evaluated everyone a second time, he was the guy that made it to the top."

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