Issaka Makes Second Trip to RU in Four Days

Woodbridge (N.J.) High defensive end Max Issaka made his second trip in four days to Rutgers, and came away with a better appreciation for the program. He not only saw practice, but got to meet with many members of the coaching and support staff. He also was involved in discussions with many of the top New Jersey recruits and said "We were talking about Rutgers, and how great it is.''

The rain was gone, the sun was bright, the practice was intense and the plethora of recruits enhanced the experience.

Yes, Woodbridge (N.J.) High defensive end Max Issaka's unofficial visit to Rutgers on Friday was markedly different than the one he took Tuesday, when practice was cancelled because of heavy rain and he spent a scant 30 minutes on campus.

This time he was there for much of the afternoon and into the evening, and got his fill. He spoke to coach Greg Schiano and assistants Randy Melvin and Robb Smith, hung out with other recruits, had some pizza and got a vibe for what it was like to play at Rutgers.

"It was a hot day, but it showed me again the commitment the players have, to go out and do their business,'' Issaka said. "Just being able to concentrate in the heat and do everything proficiently, it was a good practice. I liked it a lot.

"There were a couple of intense drills that they do that I know I could do, and that we do in high school. I liked the practice.''

One of the things the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Issaka appreciated was the honesty involved in the visit. The coaching staff didn't spent the whole time talking about how great things are, and how easy success would come.

"They told me some raw stuff that I wanted to know,'' Issaka said. "It's hard work. You've got to push and work hard at it. It's not going to be easy.

"They're giving me a scholarship, and the scholarship is there for me to work and to maintain it, and not for me to take it and sit down. I told them I should be there to work, and I like that a lot.''

Issaka also spoke about the phenomenon of what is turning into a closely knit 2011 class when it comes to some of the top recruits.

Many of the top prospects from New Jersey were at Rutgers on Friday, and it gave many of them a chance to speak to one another about what is going on.

"We were talking about how real the squad is, the 2011 recruiting class, and if we all committed to Rutgers, how great we could be,'' Issaka said. "We were talking about Rutgers, and how great it is. We talked about committing. …But I'm not going to pull the trigger and commit right away.

"The coaches aren't blowing smoke in your face. They're telling you how real it is going to be. It's not going to be a walk in the park. If you want to win the national championship, we have to work. We have to. We were just talking about how it could be possible.''

A wrestling match kept Issaka from attending Rutgers' junior day, and torrential rain earlier in the week caused a change in schedules and didn't give Issaka the chance to learn more about academics when he was on campus.

That wasn't the case this time. Issaka, who wants to major in criminal justice and minor in photography or visual arts, met the Dean Carl Kirschner to learn about academics at Rutgers.

"When I see all the opportunities and I get to know more about Rutgers academic-wise, it only helps me see why I shouldn't go so far,'' Issaka said. "To me, I'm a student-athlete vs. being a student then an athlete. At first, when I came to Rutgers it was all about the football. But what about the academics? That is what I always say to myself. "Rutgers seemed to focus in on the academic point of view because I met with the dean and he got me on the academic part of it. It seems all great now.''

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