Behind the scenes recruiting battles

Rutgers and Pittsburgh have a natural rivalry developing. These adjacent state schools have amongst the best recruiting bases in the country. Each school believes that landing the best local talent will lead to Big-East championships. But in reality, it is how each recruits in Florida that may determine titles in the future.

The Pittsburgh media guide lists six players from NJ on their roster. The Rutgers media guide lists seven players from Pennsylvania on this RU team. To fans this may seem as a competition that is brewing for each other's home recruits. However, to Rutgers fans, this is not the part of the "State of Rutgers" that should be of concern. That part exists in South Florida. Both teams have 21-players from Florida on their rosters. And these young men are difference makers.

For Pitt and Rutgers, due to their respective recruiting bases and established connections, they have the potential to land elite football talent on a year-in and year-out basis. Pitt has made a major emphasis to lock-down Western PA and recruit South Florida. With a roster full of top players from these areas, they gain national, big-time legitimacy. Rutgers has made an effort to build a fence around the NJ-NYC metropolitan area and also recruits heavily in South Florida. If RU can keep the best kids home and continue to be true to the Florida kids, this program becomes not a "Sleeping Giant", but a "Giant" all-together.

Now and in the near future, it will be very difficult for Pitt to pull elite players out of New Jersey. And the same goes for Rutgers in Western PA. But they will continue to clash in South Florida, with each program attempting to convince kids that their school provides the "best fit". So behind the scenes, this is where the real recruitng battles lie.

It becomes a contest between Rutgers Coach Chris Demarest and Pitt Coach Aubrey Hill in Dade County, where top talent has no shortage. In Broward and Palm Beach County, it becomes a contest between two young and hungry assistant coaches, in Rutgers coach Darren Rizzi and Pitt coach and Plantation native Charlie Partridge. And the two head coaches, Greg Schiano and Dave Wannestedt were formerly at the University of Miami. Wannestedt also made a presence with his time with the Miami Dolphins.

Therefore, it is an absolute certainty that these coaches are calling high schools in South Florida to make sure they watch this nationally televised game. And the Floridians on either team will be getting in touch with their families and friends back home to say "we are going to make more plays, just watch". This will be a three-hour advertisement for each respective school. And the target recruiting audience is not New Jersey for Pittsburgh or Western PA for Rutgers. It will be South Florida for both.

And if these programs continue growing at this pace, the general public's perception of this game won't be a battle for 3rd best in the conference. It will be a battle for first. And the difference will ultimately come down to each program holding court at home, and who lands the better of the Florida kids.

Scarlet Report Top Stories