New recruit: Rutgers looking at Pa. DL/OL

Rutgers coach Gary Emanuel was at the game of a developing defensive lineman from Eastern Pennsylvania. A few other Big East schools are also on the player, a 6-foot-6, 280-pounder who is having a monstrous senior season. The school's coach calls the player "a beast" and says Rutgers is "an ideal program for him.'' See who the player is, and whether the Scarlet Knights have offered a scholarship.

In the spring, Rutgers co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Kirk Ciarrocca visited Downingtown East (Exton, Pa.) and learned of defensive lineman Taj Alexander.

On Friday, Scarlet Knights defensive line coach Gary Emanuel returned to scout the 6-foot-6, 280-pound Alexander.

"He said when he was leaving that he was impressed,'' Downingtown East coach Michael Matta said. "I've coached a lot of Division I guys, and he's every bit of them. I told (Ciarrocca) when they came in spring he was a sleeper in Southeastern Pennsylvania. He has an NFL body. He's big. His arms are enormous. He can squat 380 pounds.''

Rutgers was yet to offer Alexander before Emanuel's visit, and Matta was unsure whether the Scarlet Knights were ready to offer after Friday's game.

Matta added Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Connecticut and Maryland are also recruiting Alexander, who has 17 sacks and 24 tackles for loss for the Cougars, who advanced to the second round of the District 1 Class AAAA playoffs with a 27-14 win against Norristown (Pa.) in front of Emanuel.

Matta said the interest in Alexander is rising quickly after game film from the first half of the season was sent out to the interested schools.

"Prior to his junior year he grew (about) 5 inches and gained 50 pounds,'' Matta said. "He had a good junior year. Not a great junior year, but a good one. He was one of those big kids where you say, ‘Boy, we have to keep an eye on him.'

"He's a great player. He's a one-man wrecking crew. He can run. He's strong. He's a beast.'' Alexander is playing defensive tackle for the Cougars, but his height likely will dictate he move to defensive end in college.

Matta said Alexander has "quick feet and is agile,'' and he could also play offensive tackle in college.

"He'll play and do whatever you want him to do,'' Matta said. "I know one thing -- he's going to be a star in college somewhere. He's just getting to the cusp of how good and strong he can be.''

Matta added he is familiar with Rutgers' program, and believes Alexander would fit in well there.

"In structured program like Rutgers, I think that would be an ideal program for him,'' Matt said. "He's one of those kids that feed off of that. Some kids don't respond well to that, but I think that would suit him well.''


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