New Football Commits
Rutgers' recruiting started to pick up steam as the Scarlet Knights had three additions to their class of 2007 this week. The first commitment came from highly regarded Nottingham H.S. defensive tackle Wayne Thomas who chose Rutgers over Purdue, Iowa, Michigan State, Boston College, among others. According to his coach C.J. McKenna, Thomas runs a 4.9 and recorded 102 tackles and 9 ½ sacks last season.
On Friday, Coach Schiano and staff received two more verbals; both of which will help sure up the defensive backfield. East Orange High School's Al-Majid Hutchins, a 5-11, 180 pound cornerback with 4.5 speed and big play ability, became commit #2. Hutchins recently talked about his commitment with Don "Big Dog" Forbes, calling Rutgers "paradise". Hutchins loves the environment and facilities at RU and is also excited about making an immediate impact on the team.
Joining Hutchins to commit on Friday was Our Lady Good Counsel HS defensive back Joseph Lefeged from Maryland. Lefeged, a 4-star prospect and the #23 ranked safety, is both versatile and extremely athletic. (Check out his junior highlight tape) According to Matei's interview with Lefeged's mother, Joe felt comfortable with the coaching staff and was impressed with Rutgers' business school: these factors pretty much sealed his choice to make an early commitment to RU.
On that same day, Matei reported that 4-star offensive lineman Keith Newell was close to committing to Rutgers, but has not yet pulled the trigger. Newell's coach Raphael Mack says that Newell is "in love with Rutgers", noting that Newell likes RU's facilities and Coach Schiano's progress. The Trenton native currently holds written offers from the Scarlet Knights and Cincinnati, in addition to several verbal offers.
The first 2007 Scout.com National Top 100 and initial prospect rankings were released on Monday.
Florida Camp Tour
Last weekend, SOR.com was down in the Sunshine state to cover the Scarlet Knights' camps being held in the talent-rich state. While the trip turned out to be very successful, Matei talks about the traveling adventures he and Alex had the first night.
The first stop on the Rutgers Florida tour was at Palm Beach Lakes, and SOR.com was on hand to provide exclusive images and profiles of the top prospects in attendance. There were several players to keep an eye on at the Palm Beach camp, as well as other non D-1 prospects taking the advantage to receive instruction from the Rutgers' coaching staff.
While in Florida, SOR.com teamed up with renowned columnist and recruiting analyst Larry Blustein to provide exclusive video interviews with the latest Rutgers prospects and commits. The first of these video interviews features Blustein talking with 6-4, 230 pound tight end Fabian Ruiz, a standout performer at the camps who recently received an offer from Rutgers. Later in the week, Blustein introduced a late addition to the 2006 class, defensive back Antonio Brown. The versatile athlete, who stands 5-9 and weighs 170 pounds, runs a 4.49 and played QB, WR and CB in high school. Brown is excited to suit up for the Scarlet Knights and says fans can expect him to "lock down" on opposing receivers.
Hoops Recruiting and Notes
On Tuesday, the NCAA released an initial list of invalid schools from which the NCAA will no longer accept transcripts. Hamady N'Diaye's Stoneridge Prep, the target of various investigative stories in the Washington Post and the New York Times, was not on the initial list, but could end up on it.
On the recruiting front, Rutgers is making a late push for 4-star center Phil Jones. Jones, who is playing at Laurinburg Prep in N.C., made an unofficial visit to the banks and is considering a number of schools, including Florida State, Seton Hall, and RU (all schools that have been recruiting him hard recently) as well as Indiana. In addition, CBA product Dan Werner is close to a decision, having completed a number of visits, including an unofficial trip to Rutgers.
This week, SOR.com also took a look into the future of Scarlet Knight hoops, catching up with two players: Rutgers commit Corey Chandler ('07) and prospect Ashton Gibbs ('08). On Sunday, Sardonic interviewed Corey Chandler, who assures fans that he is loyal to Fred Hill and will sign a LOI as soon as the signing period rolls around. Chandler is polishing certain aspects of his game, especially his defense, and will be attending the ABCD camp in July.
On Thursday, I had the opportunity to talk with Ashton Gibbs who completed an impressive sophomore season with Seton Hall Prep. Gibbs has been gaining the attention of several major programs, having averaged 19 points and 5 assists a game in the winter. In the early stage of his recruitment, Ashton is being contacted by Rutgers, Seton Hall, Georgetown and Iowa. This weekend, both Gibbs and Chandler played at the Rumble in the Bronx, held at Fordham University.