Different recruiting strategies prevail for different programs. Some schools offer virtually the entire world and the surprise is not who they did offer, but to whom they did not. Others take their time and the attention their prestigious name brings won't allow them to extend too many early offers. Rutgers has never fallen into the mainstream. Things have always been done, for better or for worse, differently here.
At the conclusion of the 2003 season, a season ending victory versus the Syracuse Orange had many folks take notice. Rutgers was no longer willing to use up the ink and paper and send the tonnage of offers in the hope that recruits would take a second look. The Scarlet Knights were now in charge. The early offer list small, Rutgers could, for the first time, take its time in the evaluation process and engage in significantly fewer possible risks.
Fast forward one year later and things seem to have back-tracked. A disappointing conclusion to the 2004 season has the ink and paper back in use and the scholarship offers sailing away to prospects throughout the northeast and east coast. The hope, undoubtedly, being that the early attention will reap the rewards later on as the recruiting season begins to heat up. That, of course, remains to be seen, and ultimately there is but one realization that RU football needs to attain to achieve the recruiting success that Greg Schiano's fiery and enthusiastic demeanor can attain - win football games.
All prophecy aside, we'll (for now) instead focus on the current situation and leave the forecasting for a later time. Below we will take a look, position by position, at the early offer list tendered by Rutgers.
Rutgers signed one QB in this year's class, Jabulani Lovelace out of Tenafly. With the impending graduation of SR QB Ryan Hart RU will need to sign at least one more signal-caller this year.
To date, Rutgers has offered 3 scholarships thus far. Headlining the list is the 6-foot-6 and 230-pounder Brett Brackett. The New Jersey prospect has but one scholarship offer so far, from Rutgers. His recruitment, however, is expected to pick up steam as the combines and summer camp season approach.
Keeping in the mold of big quarterbacks, looking deeper into the south one, perhaps unexpectedly, finds a South Carolina prospect by the name of B.J. Phillips who among his 3 offers to date holds one from the New Jersey school. Interestingly enough, though hailing from South Carolina, Phillips' first offer was from Rutgers. A 4.0 student Phillips will have no trouble in the classroom, wherever he should wind up.
Others: Pat Devlin: Downington, PA
Total Offers for position: 3
There is no shortage of competition in the current Rutgers backfield. And that may indeed be a good thing as last year's squad, aside from FB-turned tail All-American Brian Leonard, the RU backfield seemed to be running in quicksand for most of the year. While last year's recruiting class may be bringing some immediate help in the form of Ray Rice and Jerome Messam, RU is not standing idly.
The headliner as far as Rutgers fans should be concerned is Middletown running back Knowshon Moreno. At 6-feet and 200 pounds, Moreno currently holds a single offer, from Rutgers (seeing a trend?). However, Moreno does have a number (some have reported as many as two dozen) of verbal offers. Although he will be on hand for the May 4th Elite College Combine at the Meadowlands, it is not expected that Moreno will be working out.
[Jason] Jaslee Rouson was also offered early by Rutgers, and although the New Jersey school is doing all it can to woo the talented prospect and keep him in state, odds are strongly stacked against Rutgers. "I want out of Jersey so bad, so it's slim [to attend Rutgers]. Rutgers for the most part does not know how to keep players from New Jersey to stay in-state," stated Rouson in an earlier interview with Scout.com.
Others: Brent Carter Pottsgrove HS, Pottstown, PA. Kordell Young West Deptford HS, West Deptford, NJ.
Total Offers for position: 4
The WR gem out of this past recruiting class was Florida stand-out Chris McClover. Rutgers has made a living securing out of state wide receivers under Head Coach Greg Schiano and that trend continues today. Out of six known scholarship offers thus far, to WRs, three have been extended to out of state prospects and three to in-state prospects.
Without a doubt one of the top at his position on the east coast and perhaps in the nation is a 6-foot-4 and 200-pound prospect by the name of Vidal Hazelton. Hazelton has taken a Junior Day trip to Rutgers so he is not unfamiliar with the New Jersey program. A thought-to-be early commitment to the Virginia Cavaliers, Hazelton has since re-opened his recruitment and has openly stated that he will only look at those schools that offer him a scholarship. The WR out of Moore Catholic HS (NY) currently holds over a dozen offers and his list continues to grow daily.
One of the top WR prospects in the state of NJ, Don Bosco Prep standout Ryan Lindsey holds one offer to date, from his state school, Rutgers. The speedy 5-foot-8 and 160-pound prospect, however, is being recruited nationally, and is receiving attention from many of the top schools around the nation.
Others: John Maddox West Philadelphia Catholic HS, PA. Aaron Smith Gateway SHS, Monroeville PA. Andrey Baskin Woodrow Wilson HS, Camden, NJ. Kenny Britt, Bayonne HS, Bayonne, NJ. Preston Parker Delray Atlantic HS, Miami, FL.
Total Offers for position: 7
The offensive line has taken some big hits in recent years. One of the bright young coaches in the game left for the greener pastures of Miami. A thought-to-be capable replacement last year, R. Holder, managed to regress the entire unit from the surprising performance of the previous year. Though RU does have some bright, young prospects including Jeremy Zuttah and this year's centerpiece recruit Dave McClain, depth on the O-line has been a major issue under Coach Greg Schiano's tenure.
Alex Stadler, out of Liberty HS in Virginia, is the premiere lineman on RU's early offer list. At 6-foot-6 and 300-pounds Stadler holds over one dozen offers, including Big East Conference members Syracuse and Rutgers. Stadler, who is still only 16 years old, will see his recruitment pick up even more in the weeks and months to come and may be one of the top OL prospects in the nation before the recruiting season comes to an end next winter.
Chris Hanna, at 6-foot-4 and 290-pounds, secured his first scholarship offer from Rutgers during the second to last week of March. A second team All-Conference selection in 2004 Hanna is expected to be one of the top offensive linemen in the Northeast this year. In recent days his recruitment has also gone up a gear and Hanna has garnered three more offers since he picked up his first.
Others: Bruce Campbell [DE, OL] Hyde Leadership HS, Hamden CT. Marcus Gilbert St. Thomas Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale, FL. Jason Kates Bishop McDevitt HS, Harrisburg, PA.
Total Offers for position: 5
Rutgers has found a position that it can use as its claim to fame. There is of course Marco Battaglia the All-American TE and nine-year NFL pro who was recently signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers and more recently L.J. Smith, a member of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles. Current RU player Clark Harris may be the next RU TE to impress at the next level. Certainly, having such positional success will draw attention from some of high school's top prospects.
Joe Torchia, at 6-foot-5 and 230-pounds, excels at both the TE and DE position at Queen of Peace HS, NJ. Torchia, like so many others, received his first offer from Rutgers. His stock continues to rise, his offer list continues to grow and the battle for his services will heat up in the coming months.
Others: Jessie Cisco: Morristown HS, Morristown, NJ.
Total Offers for position: 2
Total Offensive Offers: 21
This concludes our initial look at Rutgers' early season offensive offer list. Next, we'll embark on a similar trip and take a look at the defensive side and those prospects that have been extended Rutgers scholarship offers.
Mike and the Big Dog LLC