And this time, Hester is fully committed. He has the ink to prove it.
The red-shirt freshman safety tattooed a scarlet-colored block R on his right forearm during spring break, symbolizing his passion for the program.
“I believe in Rutgers, and I think a lot of other people will too,” Hester said after Wednesday’s spring practice. “Rutgers is a great place. It’s a special place. It feels like a home, and that’s what everyone should want.”
A Scout four-star prospect in the class of 2014, Hester signed with Miami before he transferred home to Rutgers for family reasons. The assumption that grass is always greener, Hester said, is not necessarily accurate.
“There’s a lot of politics at other schools, and I feel like staying home, they’re going to give you the best opportunity,” he said. “They’re going to work you in. They’re the best choice for you.”
Hester sat out the 2014 season due to NCAA transfer regulations. He checks in as the second-team strong safety in spring behind long-time friend Davon Jacobs.
“It’s a huge transition,” Hester said. “Last year I was about learning the playbook. I was learning other team’s defenses. Now I’m focused on our defense and actually learning it in-depth. It’s a huge plus.”
The former Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph Regional and Wayne (N.J.) DePaul Catholic player has strong relationships at Rutgers. He recently saw a mentor take a step forward in E.J. Barthel.
Barthel, newly named recruiting coordinator, moved up from a student assistant role at Rutgers after he worked at ETS Training with high school athletes like Hester.
“He can relate to the players in Jersey,” Hester said. “He’s been through the recruiting process. He went here. He knows a lot of recruits. He has legitimate love for the players. He did his job training us in high school. He didn’t care about the money. He wasn’t the type of guy to worry about the money. He just wanted us to get better as young men on the field and even in the classroom.”