Schiano discusses upcoming Junior Day

NCAA rules prohibit programs from hosting official visits while school is not in session, but it does allow unofficial visitors. So while many of Rutgers' competitors are trying to put finishing touches on the 2010 class, the Scarlet Knights will work on their 2011 class during Saturday's Junior Day. More than 60 of the area's top prospects are expected to attend the all-day event.

Savon Huggins, a junior running back from St. Peter's Prep of Jersey City and one of the top players in New Jersey's 2011 class, already made several unofficial visits to Rutgers and is familiar with its coaching staff and facilities.

The same holds true for Bishop McDevitt of Harrisburg (Pa.) running back Jameel Poteat. Like Huggins and Poteat, cornerback Darius Jennings from the Gilman School in Baltimore holds an offer from the Scarlet Knights. Unlike them, he knows a lot less about the school, but that is about to change.

Those three players are part of approximately 60 class of 2011 recruits who will journey to Rutgers on Saturday for the school's annual Junior Day, a one-day event geared at making some of the area's elite talent and their families more familiar with the football program, as well as introduce them to the academic side of the school.

NCAA regulations forbid coaches from talking publicly about individual recruitable athletes, but Rutgers coach Greg Schiano spoke to about the varying importance of Junior Day.

"Nowadays, kids get a lot of exposure to schools before Junior Day, but what it does, I think, is it kicks off the formal recruitment,'' Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. "A lot the kids who will be coming to the junior day have been down to practice, and been down to a bunch of different things. But at the Junior Day, it's the first formal thing.''

Rutgers has extended between two and three dozen written offers to members of the class of 2011, and so far 12 have communicated with their intention to attend the event.

In addition to Huggins, Poteat and Jennings, defensive end Connor Wujciak of Seton Hall Prep (West Orange), defensive tackle Vincent Croce of Good Counsel (Olney, Md.), running back Charles Davis of Neptune (N.J.), safety/receiver Tanner McEvoy of Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.), safety Sheldon Royster of St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City, N.J.) and athlete Damiere Byrd of Timber Creek (Erial, N.J.), linebacker Quentin Gause of Bishoop Kearney (Rochester, N.Y.) and offensive linemen Trip Thurman of Dover (Del.) and Josue Matias of Union City (N.J.) all said, texted or emailed they would attend.

Angelo Mangiro, a highly sought after offensive lineman from Roxbury High (Succasunna, N.J.), said he would come if he didn't have a basketball conflict.

Also, athlete Miles Shuler of Long Branch (N.J.) said he will attend, and it could be a big day for him. He recently said it was communicated to him, through his coach, he would receive an offer from Rutgers either before or at Junior Day.

"I think the guys that you've built relationships with, it's just another opportunity to be with them,'' Schiano said. "There will be some guys here that have never been on out campus before, so that's a positive thing.''

The day is designed to be a large meet-and-greet, with coaches getting to know players and their families, who in turn, gain a better understanding of what Rutgers is all about.

"You get the academic presentation, you get to see the entire school, not just the football facilities,'' Schiano said. "So, I think it is kind of a kickoff point in some ways, but really it's not. Again, the top players you've been in communication with since they were freshmen and sophomores.''

Junior days affords schools the opportunity to make a dynamic impression with many of the players they hope will comprise their 2011 recruiting class, and Rutgers gets to make the first splash.

Most schools hold their junior days in February because they are hosting official visits for the senior class in January.

However, NCAA rules prohibit schools from hosting official visits while school is out of session. Since Rutgers' second semester does not begin until next week, it cannot host any official visits. Rather than sit by idly while their competitors are recruiting, Rutgers gets a jump on the 2011 class.

"We've used it as a great opportunity to get a head start,'' Schiano said. "Generally, there are not many schools having junior days in January because they have official visits. We only have two official visit weekends in January.

"So, we've made it a positive. What would have been a third (weekend), had our academic schedule been different, we used as a junior day, and it's been good for us.''

Schiano also likes to set the standard for subsequent junior days those in attendance will experience elsewhere.

"We're generally the first one,'' Schiano said. "I think our guys do an exceptional job. I want families and recruits to be comparing all the other junior days they go to, to ours.''

To find out who else is coming to Rutgers' Junior Day, click here.

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