Salem (N.J.) running back Jonathan Taylor knows where he stands at Rutgers after a junior day visit and offseason coaching change in Piscataway.
The talented 2017 prospect out of South Jersey received a verbal scholarship offer last year. Chris Ash is now in charge, and he made it clear that they want Taylor’s talents in the Rutgers backfield.
“With these new coaches, they don’t have a problem telling you where you stand,” said Taylor, who checks in at 5-foot-11, 200 pounds with a 4.47 40-yard dash. “Throughout the whole day, they were telling me that it’s a great school all of these great things, but they were honest. They said, ‘listen man, it’s your decision but this school fits you.’ They told me everything I needed to know to convince me to come there.”
Taylor connected with Ash, and he also met with running backs coach Zac Kuhr during a Saturday visit to campus.
“My junior day was about finding out who the new staff was, who was who, trying to find out their personalities,” Taylor said. “I wanted to see what they were all about, and for the most part, they were all about the right stuff. Coach Ash seems to care about the players a lot. He rarely talked about Rutgers. He talked about how us as student athletes are the ones that make up Rutgers.”
Salem County sits 90 minutes from the Rutgers campus. Taylor knows the program based on players from his area. Salem plays Glassboro (N.J.) annually, where Rutgers recruited players like Gary Brackett, Paul James and Ronnie James.
“I follow Rutgers, especially that they recruit some South Jersey guys, a couple of guys that I know from different teams,” he said. “I kind of keep up with their roster and find out if there’s any guys I’ve played against. Basically, I follow their personnel. That’s how I keep up with them.”
Education is a driving factor in Taylor’s ultimate college decision and not recruiting stars and glamor.
“[Some recruit’s] eyes are set on the league and they kind of lose sight that life after football is going to happen eventually,” Taylor said. “Those academics are going to play a big part in what happens after. … As of right now, I’m going to go into a science field. In high school, I really love going to chemistry class, so as of now that’s the field I’m interested in.”
In addition to a diploma and NFL opportunity, Taylor wants a devoted position coach.
“I’m looking for a college that is going to push you to being the best player you can be,” he said. “A lot of colleges, especially at the position of running back, they say that you’re talented and just give them the ball and let them run and do their thing. I’m looking for a college that really develops their players. At the end of the day, everybody that goes Division 1, hopefully, they want to go to the NFL. While you’re in college getting your degree, you also have to be developing on the football field to be the best you can be.”
The South Jersey standout ran for 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior at 7.3 yards per carry. Maryland, Vanderbilt and Michigan showed interest in Taylor’s services. He visits Temple’s junior day event Wednesday in Philadelphia.