Interest Heats Up for OL Lopez

Middletown (N.J.) South offensive lineman Thomas Lopez visited Rutgers Friday night, and left with the hopes of an incoming scholarship offer. The 2016 prospect followed Rutgers since childhood, and discussed the significance of increased interest from his home-state school.

Middletown (N.J.) South’s Thomas Lopez is a long-time Rutgers follower, so his growing recruitment remains eye-opening for the 2016 offensive lineman.

Lopez camped at Rutgers and attended multiple games as an underclassman, and remains high on the program he grew up watching.

“They’ve always been my No. 1,” Lopez said. “I mean, Alabama could offer me tomorrow and Rutgers would still be my top school. There’s so much about Rutgers that I like.”

Lopez visited Rutgers Friday night, where he took in a wrestling match with the football coaching staff.

One of a record 6,071 fans packed into the RAC, Lopez watched alongside 2015 commit Jonah Jackson and 2016 commit Ted Field. He traveled with his uncle, who saw Rutgers for the first time.

Lopez left without an offer, but that could change soon.

“It will happen very soon,” Lopez said. “They are impressed with me. Coach [Mitch] Browning and coach [Joe] Rossi will be at my school Thursday.”

Penn State, Boston College and Temple are among other schools expressing interest, but it could be a quick decision for Lopez should in-state Rutgers come through with an offer.

“They’re home to me,” Lopez said. “They’re my home state, and I think there’s something [special] about that. With them being in the Big Ten, they really kind of shocked everybody this year in my opinion. They can play with most teams. They should have beaten Penn State, they beat Michigan and Indiana and Maryland and they won their bowl game.”

Lopez cited relationships with head coach Kyle Flood and Browning, the offensive line coach, as other reasons for interest.

“I’ll never forget the first practice I went to,” Lopez said. “Coach Flood came and talked to me after the practice and he asked what I learned at the practice. I really like that he came out of his way to ask me what I learned. From then, I’ve really enjoyed being with him and talking to him.

“Coach Browning is a great person to talk to. When you meet a new coach, you get to learn from him and where he came from and different terminology that he uses. I can tell he’s a good coach, and I know the other offensive linemen thing he’s great.”

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