Short Visit "Enhanced" Rutgers for Issaka

Woodbridge (N.J.) High defensive end Max Issaka made an unofficial visit to Rutgers on Tuesday. It was short, but he saw enough to say it "enchanced" his view of the program. What was it that made Issaka take notice? And what is Issaka's next step with the Scarlet Knights? Also, Issaka talks about his trip to Maryland last weekend, and what he learned.

Woodbridge (N.J.) High defensive end Max Issaka spent about 30 minutes on Rutgers' campus Tuesday, but he got plenty out of it.

He spoke to a couple members of the coaching staff, including assistant Robb Smith, who is recruiting him, and also got a quick glimpse of what goes on in the Hale Center.

It wasn't the ideal situation, with Issaka arriving for an unofficial visit at the same time his coach learned practice was cancelled because of rain, but the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder actually came away feeling even better about the program.

"It enhanced what Rutgers is all about,'' Issaka said. "It's hard work. It showed me that the coaches put in their time and work. In meetings, in organization, they'll put their time in no matter what the weather is like. Hard rain, snow, it doesn't matter.

"It actually helped me think better of Rutgers as an all-around, hard-working team.''

Issaka has been to campus before and is developing a strong bond with the Rutgers staff, but one thing he is yet to experience is a practice. That was supposed to happen Tuesday, but now Issaka is trying to arrange for a ride to campus at the end of the week.

"I really wanted to get in there and see how being a Scarlet Knight for a day would be,'' he said. "I might come back (Friday). I was ready to go.''

Issaka said his high school coach drove him to Rutgers on Tuesday, but didn't check his text messages until after Issaka got out of the car and headed to the Hale Center.

"He called me back and said practice was canceled,'' Issaka said. "After that, I told him, let's go inside. We looked around and talked to the coaches, but they were in a meeting so we only talked for a little while.''

Issaka holds offers from Rutgers, UCF and Maryland, where he visited last weekend. He could also be getting offers from Pittsburgh and Connecticut.

"After I went to Maryland, I was going to go out to Pittsburgh, but it didn't go as planned,'' Issaka said. "They had a scholarship, but they want me to come there and pick it up. And the same thing with UConn. I'm still talking to the coaches, and me and my coach are going to find a date to go up to UConn soon.''

Although Rutgers is close by and he is familiar with the program, he said is yet to name a favorite.

But after the visit to Maryland, Issaka now has a compass with which to compare other programs.

"I can't really pinpoint my favorite,'' he said. "I will have to say Maryland looked good as a team, and when I went there, it's all organized and everything was going great. I like the hype, I like the intensity and everything, but that's the only point of view I have since I just visited them last week.''


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