Consider the "Plus Factor"

Each year, football players throughout New Jersey must decide whether to showcase their talents at Rutgers University or some out-of-state institution. Academic reputation, bowl appearances and playing time, among other things, factor into their decision.

Each high school senior has his own list of criteria when considering a school. However, it appears seniors consistently underestimate – or completely fail to consider – the power of what I call the "plus factor." Simply put, the "plus factor" is positioning oneself to capitalize on a range of opportunities in New Jersey as a result of one's exploits as a student-athlete. Of course, the coaching staff must market this benefit.

By signing to play football at Rutgers, New Jersey's finest are given free advertising. During their tenure at Rutgers, alumni and others in the state would have witnessed their development as student-athletes. Specifically, they would have watched the players perform, read about them in the local newspapers and cheered for their individual and team successes.

Upon graduation, those same people help players achieve their career goals by directly providing them with professional opportunities or by introducing them to contacts who can offer the same.

Let's face it, most college football players do not make it to the pros. In fact, the likelihood of a student-athlete becoming an accountant, teacher, social worker, physician or attorney is much greater than his chances of making it to the NFL.

In light of that reality, it is imperative that a recruit asks himself an important question: What institution gives me the best opportunity to enjoy optimum success in my future endeavors? In New Jersey, it's Rutgers.

Rutgers is a great university with a vast network that permeates all genres of the public and private sectors in New Jersey. A degree from Rutgers, combined with years of free publicity as a result of playing varsity football, could lead to a competitive advantage in New Jersey's marketplace. Blue-chip recruits from New Jersey who decide to attend Rutgers are in the best position to capitalize on that advantage upon graduation.

The plus factor allows student-athletes membership into an elite club of alumni and friends who endeavor to continue the spirit of excellence on and beyond the banks of the Raritan River. Alumni and friends are committed to seeing graduates of the athletic program dismantle the "dumb jock" persona so they can invest in the state that has invested in them.

The plus factor affords players influence and affluence in their hometowns (and throughout the state). There is something fulfilling about being the hometown hero. Not for the sake of being deified or for self-aggrandizement, but for the value of representing a complete and realistic ideal to which young men can aspire, and it has little to do with athletics.

The plus factor means the opportunity to one day be listed in a Rolodex through which you were one day thumbing. Why is this so unique to Rutgers? Because there is an incomparable passion about the place we call "home."

There is nothing like going back to the old neighborhood (Paterson) and throughout the state to share the complete picture: the world-renowned faculty, contacts established, the lifelong friendships, lectures by prominent national figures and the gourmet food in the dining hall.

The plus factor means strengthening roots that already have been planted. Staying in state is like watering an old tree and simply waiting to enjoy the fruit it bears. Why uproot yourself when there are vitamins, minerals and fertilizers to keep you healthy right where you are?

When faced with the question to stay or not to stay, recruits, remember that the plus factor makes you like a tree planted by the river (the Raritan). Your leaves will not wither, you will bear fruit in your season, and whatever you do will prosper.

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