If day one is any indication for coach Chris Ash and his full-time incorporation into Rutgers football, the future is bright and always in motion.
Ash sent a message to New Jersey high school coaches Monday night in a meeting at Rutgers and the message was clear – Rutgers is on the rise.
“He showed his vision of Rutgers and what he wants to get accomplished,” said Manalapan head coach Ed Guerrieri. “He’s a straightforward, honest guy. He’s down to earth. I was impressed, very impressed. It’s too early to tell because he hasn’t been able to do anything yet but I wish him the best of luck. I hope everything comes to fruition with his plan, because it’s a great one.”
Ash introduced more than two dozen local coaches to the new program, vision and his coaching staff. Sweeping changes are underway for Rutgers football, which includes everything from cosmetic changes in the Hale Center to staff changes.
“There’s a lot of energy and a lot of great ideas,” said Columbia assistant Darnell Mangan, who coached Kemoko Turay at Barringer. “It’s all new, the honeymoon stage. They’re new to New Jersey but he’s very confident. He knows what he wants to do.”
Ash and his coaching staff stressed the importance of New Jersey to Rutgers while he also expressed the need to expand nationally.
“He wants to recruit players in New Jersey and he understands how good the players are and they’re going to try their best,” Guerrieri said. “They’re also going to recruit kids from wherever they can to get the best players. More importantly, he said player development is going to be a big thing – character, player development, good kids, tough kids.”
The majority of the full-time Rutgers staff attended Monday night’s event. Newly-hired director of high school relations Rick Mantz and former wide receivers coach Anthony Campanile also attended the event. They hit on multiple topics with New Jersey coaches
Coaches can expect more convenient access to the program under Ash and a coaching staff focused on both talent and character.
“The biggest thing is the open door,” said Hannover Park coach Gerry Moore. “It seems like he is going to open his arms up to New Jersey coaches and that’s huge. He’s willing to do a lot for our programs with his program which is huge. A lot of enthusiasm and things he wants to change right away, but he wants us to have a voice here.
“Being [at Rutgers] today for the first time and coming to speak to us when he probably has 1,000 things to worry about today shows a lot. He’s making sure that we know we’re one of the main priorities for him, which is huge.”
Ash did not shy away from the tough questions, including a lack of New Jersey ties on his full-time coaching staff.
“He got a great reception from everyone there,” said former Rutgers assistant and Somerville head coach Kevin Carty Sr. “He did make a point of saying that we haven’t hired anyone with New Jersey connections and defended that point. You can win in California without being from California. I came away with a positive impression and him having a good vision of the way it should be done and I believe he’s going to get the support he needs to do it.”