Did the bowl hurt Rutgers' recruiting?

Rutgers' 45-24 victory against Central Florida in the St. Petersburg Bowl gave the program tremendous national exposure, but there were some negatives from playing a game on Dec. 19. Not only did it come in the middle of finals, but also during a valuable time in recruiting when Rutgers' coaches could have been out en masse. Instead, their time was split between recruiting and game preparation.

Rutgers' bowl win was a three-and-a-half hour commercial for the style of play and the talent level within the program, and the visibility of being the only college game being played certainly should help in recruiting.

However, because the St. Petersburg Bowl was played Dec. 19, it potentially did serious damage to the 2010 recruiting class.

By the time the Scarlet Knights returned home from the 45-24 drubbing of Central Florida, it was a dead period. It means a coach is limited to calling a recruit once a week and emailing. No face-to-face contact is allowed, and it will remain that way until Jan. 4.

"The times that we were preparing for the game were the times that a lot of teams were out recruiting,'' Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. "Those two weeks we were out recruiting, but we were also preparing for the game. There are only so many man-power hours you have as an organization.

"To be frank, as I said in the beginning, we missed out on the young guys practicing and we missed out on recruiting. We kind of got squeezed on both ends. I enjoyed the trip. It was a great bowl game. They did a great job. It was great to win the game, but ultimately it was not a good setup timing-wise."

Rutgers tried to make the best of it by visiting several players in South Florida, including Leto High (Tampa) running back/safety Jeremy Deering, Manatee High (Bradenton) receiver Ace Sanders and Belen Jesuit Prep (Miami) cornerback Pablo Alvarez.

However, it was difficult for the Scarlet Knights to drop by too many schools to show their interest in current players with Rutgers offers, to evaluate under-the-radar seniors and rising juniors because of bowl preparation.

A few days of being able to go out recruiting were also missed because Rutgers hosted an official visit weekend Dec. 11-13, which was well spent since it resulted in the commitment of Egg Harbor Township (N.J.) receiver Tejay Johnson.

When Rutgers gets back on the recruiting trail next month, expect a hard push for Irmo High (Columbia. S.C.) running back Mustafa Greene, who is listing Rutgers, North Carolina State, Alabama and Auburn.

The Scarlet Knights already have a commitment from running back Casey Turner of Edward H. White High (Jacksonville), and have running back Jawan Jamison of The Bolles School (Jacksonville) scheduled for an official visit next month.

And landing a second running back is a focal point for the 2010 class. "I think we were studying our running game but I don't know how many times we created yardage that wasn't blocked,'' Schiano said. "I think you need to do that. We got spoiled around here with Ray [Rice]. There might be a 3-yard play blocked and he made it into a 13-yard play.

"When you study Ray's production here, (he) had so many of those 7- to 15-yard runs that don't go on ESPN, but those moved the chains and kept the drive alive. They weren't all blocked for seven to 15 yards, I can promise you that. He made a guy miss.''

However, elusiveness was missing from the running game during the 2009 season.

"That is where we need to step it up a level,'' Schiano said. "I am not downplaying what our running backs did this year between Joe [Martinek] and Jourdan [Brooks] and all the guys. They run hard. I just think we need to take the next step there. Part of that is always recruiting."

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