Signing Day Rewind: Defensive Backs

Scarlet Report goes position-by-position to break down what Rutgers got in its 2015 recruiting class, and what it needs to accomplish in the next recruiting year. We wrap it up at defensive back, where Rutgers beat out some big-time competition in 2015.

In 2015 -- Head coach Kyle Flood welcomed cornerback Blessuan Austin into the program last month, and also signed Ronnie James and Jarius Adams at the position. James and Adams stuck with Rutgers after offers came from Ohio State and Michigan respectively after early commitments. At safety, Rutgers enjoyed a late in-state splash when Najee Clayton chose the Scarlet Knights.

Expectations -- Early expectations are high for Austin, who is already enrolled after a year in prep school to learn the position. Austin could follow names like Nadir Barnwell, Anthony Cioffi and Dre Boggs as true freshman contributors, but a red-shirt year would not hurt him. James and Adams both have starter potential, but benefit from time in the weight room before they see the field. Similarly to Darian Dailey and Isaiah Wharton, there is nothing wrong with a slow burn. Clayton has early special teams potential, but may not finish his Rutgers career as a safety. Clayton has the frame to grow into a big hitter at linebacker should the need develop. This is a group Rutgers needs moving forward, especially with the talent at receiver within eastern Big Ten division.

In 2016 -- Rutgers has offers out to plenty of defensive backs, and gets more time for evaluation heading into the summer camp circuit. Some of the key names to watch before the spring evaluation period are Jordan Fuller of Old Tappan (N.J.) Northern Valley, Hasise Dubois of Wayne (N.J.) DePaul and Benny Walls of Philadelphia St. Joseph. Rutgers has a commitment from wide receiver Mohamed Jabbie, who could also get a look at defensive back like his uncle Mohamed Sanu did as a freshman.

Needs Addressed? -- Yes. Rutgers did well in recruiting the secondary. The new members at cornerback and safety bring athleticism, interesting relationships and are high-character kids. Rutgers didn’t need to reach at the position this year, and beat out some big-name schools to improve its young secondary.


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