Down The Stretch They Come

With signing day merely a couple of days away, high school and college football fans alike are nearly giddy with enthusiasm anticipating what remaining prospects will head to what schools and wondering what surprises may still be in the offing. For RU, fresh off the program's most illustrious season, it's been a whirlwind of a recruiting season that may not yet be complete.

The current Rutgers Football class lists 21 prospects that are likely to ink their names this upcoming Wednesday morning. It is a star-studded class at several positions and boasts some impressive quality and depth at others. With the class nearing completion, only a few questions still remain to be answered.

There are still a number of prospects that have yet to finalize their collegiate decisions and are unlikely to do so until national signing day (NSD). First and foremost amongst these prospects is Homestead HS star Safety Joseph Nicolas, a one-time Scarlet Knight commitment. Nicolas pulled the trigger during his official visit to Rutgers this past December and made it public that he was to don Scarlet during his collegiate career. However, after initially stating that he was finished with additional official visits, Nicolas decided that he owed it to himself to check out the home-town Hurricanes. And at that point, the battle for the Floridian star began.

Rutgers has yet to pull in a sunshine state prospect that Miami coveted during Coach Schiano's head coaching campaign. There have been a number of Garden State prospects that have selected RU over Miami, but never has the Big East school gone south to take a blue-chipper away from the mighty 'Canes. In this season of firsts, where Miami attempted to woo both Rutgers Head Football Coach Greg Schiano and Rutgers Assistant Offensive Coordinator and WRs Coach John McNulty to Coral Gables, it may be the trifecta that will have idle onlookers realizing that Schiano's gig in New Brunswick is no joking matter. In what has become one of the more intriguing off the field battles between once conference brethren, Joe Nicolas' final selection will speak volumes. For Rutgers, Garden State blue chip prospects are staying home (see, for example, Anthony Davis, Manny Abreu, and Mason Robinson to name a few), but for Miami, who has in recent years lost a number of key recruiting battles on its home turf to UF, FSU, and others, to begin to lose their in-state talent to one-time bottom-feeder Rutgers will serve as the embodiment of the ever-dynamic college football landscape.

With this year's on-field success, Rutgers has found itself in a number of more battles with some of the nation's premiere football institutions. In South Florida, RU is battling Miami for the services of Nicolas, while in central Florida, the Scarlet Knights are butting heads with national champion Florida and such renowned programs as Florida State and Auburn - the recipient of this recruiting adolation is rush end Jerry "Jay" Howard. Howard was Florida's first pledge of the recruiting season but has since decided to take additional visits, to Wake Forest, Florida State, Auburn, and Rutgers. Howard took his last trip to Florida and some suspected that his commitment had been firmed up. However, despite stating that Florida is his current leader, Howard states that his final decision would not be forthcoming until NSD.

"I'm gonna decide on signing day. It's gonna be between the four schools," stated Howard in an interview with SOR last week. The four schools making up his final list include Auburn, Florida, Florida State and Rutgers.

In recent weeks much attention has gone the way of Northwestern HS star RB Antwain Easterling and his possible future destination. Easterling took his first official visit to Rutgers in mid-December and may be opting to leave his final choice until NSD as well. The sunshine state star has been the recipient of stern criticism from fans lately for an off the field incident that became public knowledge little more than one month ago. Despite the serious error in judgment that not many would let fall by the wayside, the fact remains that Easterling is a humble young man of good character that would greatly benefit from a proper environment.

The trio of athletes whose decision is still looming could help boost RU's current class ranking into the Scout.com National Top 20. However, the current class, as it stands today, still remains as the best group of high school football players that Coach Schiano has assembled since his arrival at Rutgers. With next year's departure of Tackles Jeremy Zuttah and Pedro Sosa (both likely to be NFL draftees) RU needed to fill a major OL gap and had to bring in both quality and depth as part of this year's class. The juggernaut and stud of the class was local phenom Anthony Davis who projects as an offensive line bookend down the road, though he'll likely see time as soon as next year at RG. The OL class boasts tremendous quality and depth with Richard Muldrow, Keith Newell, and Caleb Ruch solidifying what could become one of the nation's most imposing OLs a few years down the road.

Receiving the least attention of all of this year's prospects is one San San Te, who is set to become Jeremy Ito's replacement after next year. While RU fans will have one more year of The Judge, Te has gone virtually unmentioned in talk around the water cooler, despite standing in as one of the top HS kickers in the nation (#2 according to Chris Sailer's Top 12 Kickers/Punters of 2006-2007). Unlike Ito, however, Te will have the significant advantage over his predecessor of coming in to college and acclimating himself with the university lifestyle and the idea of high-level D1 athletics while learning from one of the nation's premier kickers for the entirety of one year.

Current RU Commit List

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