Rutgers held its first media session as a coaching staff Tuesday afternoon and the underlying theme was clear.
If you’re from New Jersey and you can play, Rutgers is coming for you.
The dead period ends Thursday in recruiting, and coach Chris Ash and his staff begin with an expected swarm across the top programs and players within the Garden State.
“I'm excited about being the head coach here and I'm more excited about the type of men I've been able to surround myself with as we start this journey and get ready to hit the road for recruiting on Thursday,” Ash said in his opening Tuesday statement.
Rutgers assistant coaches will be all over New Jersey Thursday and Friday to see commitments, flip targets, uncommitted prospects and some of the top underclassmen in the state.
The majority of local schools expect visits, including top programs like Don Bosco Prep (cornerback Tyrone Hill), DePaul Catholic (defensive end Quayshon Alexander), South Brunswick (receiver Mohamed Jabbie and safety Phil Campbell), Timber Creek (2017 cornerback Naijee Jones) and Camden (defensive ends Ron Johnson Jr. and Jamal Holloway).
“I think anywhere you're at, you need to be able to recruit your backyard successfully,” said Rutgers defensive coordinator Jay Niemann. “That goes without being said. This whole area of the United States, New York, New Jersey, where we're at, we have a lot of players in this area that are within our reach from a geographical perspective. Not everybody in the country obviously has that luxury.”
Rutgers holds two commitments from New Jersey in the 2016 recruiting class and that number likely skyrockets before National Signing Day.
“Honestly, I want to look at every kid in the state of New Jersey,” said defensive line coach Shane Burnham. “That’s the first thing before I even got on campus. Coach Ash when I took the job, we had a list of all of the Jersey guys and he said ‘I want them watched before you get in my office on Monday.’ Yes sir. I’m focusing on Jersey guys first.”
Ash has his staff all in on recruiting since the start of the New Year. Team preparation and film review do not become the focus until the recruiting class signs on the dotted line.
“Right now our goal is all recruiting and recruiting New Jersey,” said defensive backs coach Bill Busch. “That’s the main focus.”