In the hectic recruiting world that is 2015, the highest rated player in the Rutgers football recruiting class experienced plenty of headaches.
Gibsonton (Fla.) East Bay four-star defensive end Marques Ford became the hottest prospect on the market after he and Tennessee parted ways in January. Rutgers was the first in the door after Ford’s de-commitment and defensive line coach Jim Panagos led the way for a big commitment.
“I’m relieved that it happened this way,” Ford said on the recruiting process. “Rutgers is the place I should have been in the first place. … I have the best coach possible for defensive line. The program is meant for football players to have success during and after college.”
Ford enrolled at Rutgers in June. The speedy edge rusher completed his first week of training camp, and discussed early experiences at Rutgers media day.
“I love Rutgers,” Ford said. “There’s really no downside to being here. It’s everything I expected. It wasn’t a dishonest way of recruiting me where they tell me part of the picture. I’ve gotten everything they said was coming, and I’m enjoying it so far.”
At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Ford faces challenges before a push for playing time.
“The adjustment from high school to college is obviously a challenge, but you get that at any college,” Ford said. “It’s a very busy schedule. The Big Ten is a challenge, period. I’m doing everything I can and I’ll catch up.
“… You have to have effort in everything you do in practice, so you can put it out like that in the games. If you practice at half speed, you’re going to play at half speed.”
Ford credits Panagos as an excellent recruiter but an even better football coach, he said.
“He’s high energy and has a passion for the game,” Ford said. “He’s all over the place. He’s a great person. He knows what he’s doing and he knows how to hype everyone up in practice.”