Familiar Recruiting Haunts, but Twisted

On the surface, it looked like Rutgers hit familiar stomping grounds in signing 24 players to letters of intent on Wednesday. However, such is not the case as the Scarlet Knights made important, not to mention encouraging, progress in recruiting more of Florida, and also had a key get out of a football factory in Maryland.

After getting one player from Florida in 2009, Rutgers again went heavy in the Sunshine State this recruiting season, but in a much different way than in the past. The Scarlet Knights dipped into Maryland again, but with a twist.

And Rutgers also stayed in New Jersey as well, but was selective in the players it went after.

On the surface, the regions Rutgers recruited were familiar to followers of the program, but the Scarlet Knights blazed new trails en route to signing 24 players Wednesday.

Mainland High defensive tackle Kenneth Kirksey is the first Daytona Beach, Fla., player ninth-year Rutgers coach Greg Schiano landed.

A trio of players – defensive back Rashad Knight and running backs, Jawan Jamison and Casey Turner -- from Jacksonville gave Rutgers another new drawing place.

Getting a pair of players in receiver Jeremy Deering and linebacker Fred Overstreet from Tampa may be a signal the Scarlet Knights are ready to have a presence in the University of South Florida's backyard.

"We've expanded a little in Florida, in the areas that we're in,'' Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. "We're now recruiting the entire state, other than the panhandle area, and we've been able to do very well. Kenneth is the first guy we've had, in our tenure, from the Daytona area, and that excited us.''

The move into Tampa is something Rutgers long tried to do, but it didn't translate into much success before the last few weeks.

"We worked at it, but really, without a ton of results,'' Schiano said. "But we just looked at where we had relationships. What are easy access points into New Jersey? We have the relationships there, and there are so many flights out of Tampa, Jacksonville, you can get up here in a hurry. We have the contacts there, and I felt that was important for us.''

Previously, Rutgers' Florida connections were tied to the Southern reaches of the talent-laden state. West Palm Beach, Dade and Broward Counties were the focus, and Rutgers landed a trio of players in defensive end Djwany Mera, cornerback Gareef Glashen and linebacker Marcus Thompson from that area.

"I love the fact we recruit the same areas every year, but you need to have some flexibility,'' Schiano said. "If you get a year where it's not as rich in one area as the other, you have to be able to have some flexibility, and you don't ever want to box yourself out.''

Schiano had success in the Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland region before, but this time the Scarlet Knights were able to re-establish a connection with one of the most storied programs in the area when safety Lorenzo Waters of DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) signed.

Rutgers also pulled four-star receiver Brandon Coleman of Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.) out the region.

"I think D.C., Maryland, (the) Northern Virginia area is another area that we've been able to expand into, which we didn't do originally,'' Schiano said.

Rutgers signed nine Florida recruits, nine from New Jersey, two each from Pennsylvania and Maryland and one from New York.

"I think New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Baltimore, Maryland, Delaware and Connecticut is something we're going to stick to,'' Schiano said. "We believe in recruiting the state of Rutgers. It served us well. Every once in a while we'll jump out for a special need.''

And that is where the unconventional trip to South Carolina, to snare quarterback Chas Dodd, was bred.

"We'll always recruit quarterbacks nationally,'' Schiano said. "We will always make (New Jersey) our main base, and we work out. …I don't know how much we can expand. I don't think we can. I think we're stretched right to our limit. The rest of the areas will always have to be, if we go somewhere, cherry pick.''


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