Rutgers visited Sparta (N.J.) Pope John XXIII with a stop to see a 2017 defensive lineman but left with a new linebacker target in the 2018 class.
After a film session between Pope John coach Brian Carlson and Rutgers defensive coordinator Jay Niemann, linebacker Nick DeNucci has his first verbal scholarship offer.
“[Carlson] told me they wanted to offer me a scholarship,” said the 6-foot-1, 225-pound middle linebacker. “... It means everything that my first offer is in state. It means so much to me because the opportunity is a great one. I know [coach Chris] Ash, what he's doing right now is great. The rebuilding process is great with everything they're doing there.”
Recruiting is new for DeNucci, but he has plenty of experienced advisers in the process. DeNucci played on the same defense as Dalyn Wade-Perry in 2016, and has a former teammate – Sam Howson – headed for a red-shirt freshman season at Rutgers.
Pittsburgh, Navy, Penn State and Syracuse are also in contact with DeNucci. A Rutgers junior day is his next planned visit.
“Academics play a huge role,” DeNucci said. “I know Rutgers is a great school academically. They're close to an Ivy League school but they want to stay in the Big Ten, and that's why they're in there. Academics are something I like, and I know Rutgers is huge on that.
“I'm looking for a team that has my back, a school with a great tradition. I want to go to a big school and Rutgers is obviously big with a big stadium.”
So what does Rutgers mean for the North Jersey junior?
“When I think Rutgers, I think tradition,” DeNucci said. “I think family. It's in state and I've played a couple of games there. I've been on recruiting visits there when I was younger. It's a great place and it's close.”
Regarding a 2-10 first season under Ash, DeNucci said he understands what a rebuild means.
“[The coaches] are great guys,” he said. “They're very down to earth, and I'm comfortable with them. I've obviously talked to the coaches before at games. They've been to the school before. I feel comfortable with them.”null