In the business world of modern football recruiting, a little human touch goes a long way.
Rutgers head coach Chris Ash wants personal connection with the top New Jersey coaches and a phone call was not enough to nearby Piscataway (N.J.) High School. Before Ash landed a commitment from former Piscataway defensive end Elorm Lumor, he mailed a series of letters up Route 18 to his head coach.
“My first impressions are really jaw-dropping as far as energy and excitement and everything I’ve seen from the staff,” said Piscataway coach Dan Higgins. “For the first time ever in my career – I’ve been doing this for a while – one of the things I thought was really nice was personal notes from every staff member that came to us at the school. It was handwritten to me and introduced each coach. That was just a piece of class.”
Higgins coached more than a half-dozen Rutgers players under the last two coaches, and welcomed the opportunity to send another standout across town for a Big Ten opportunity.
“I don’t remember a time when we didn’t have a guy over at Rutgers,” Higgins said. “It just seems like there’s supposed to be a Piscataway player at Rutgers so I can go over any time I want. Even if I didn’t have a kid, I could still go over because that’s the kind of people they are. But having a kid, it makes you feel more connected to things.”
The Rutgers staff made it clear in an early January presentation to coaches that they are always welcome on campus. Higgins plans to take advantage.
“Selfishly for me, [Lumor’s commitment] puts me in the program because I have a kid in the program, so I’m very excited about that being able to get to know Chris even better and watch him do his thing,” Higgins said.
Higgins’ championship history at Piscataway includes many familiar names to Rutgers fans and former first-round NFL draft pick Anthony Davis.
“We’re excited about the whole Rutgers situation being the school that so many of our players went to beforehand – Marvin Booker, Devraun Thompson, Anthony Davis and of course Nadir [Barnwell], which was not great circumstances, Brandon Renkart,” Higgins said. “[Lumor] knows about the history but he also knows they’re a backyard school. He’s going to be playing right next to where he grew up. Between the history and the location and being a Jersey football player, it’s going to be a really good relationship.”