Star-studded Event Gathers the Area's Best

Two dozen of the top players from the area traveled to Rutgers' campus Sunday to meet with the coaching staff, talk amongst themselves and bond with each other. Savon Huggins, Jameel Poteat, Connor Wujciak, Angelo Mangiro and host of others from New York, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey were on campus. Go inside to find out what took place, what the recruits thought and much more.

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano emphasized the ability to win a national championship and how the Scarlet Knights are no longer rebuilding, but instead are ready to move to the next level of winning, and the 2011 class could be the catalyst for such an achievement.

According to those attending Sunday's events at Rutgers, that was the message Schiano delivered during a laid-back, get-to-know-each-other afternoon involving nearly two dozen of the area's top recruits.

The star-studded gathering was headlined by St. Peter's Prep (N.J.) five-star running back Savon Huggins, but he was not alone.

Players from New York, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey all made the trip for the afternoon festivities, which were highlighted by Schiano's speech.

"I think the day was, in their eyes, to let us know Rutgers could be a future place for us to win a national championship,'' four-star Long Branch (N.J.) athlete Miles Shuler said. "That was the message they were trying to give us.''

The day had profound impact on Woodbridge (N.J.) High defensive end Max Issaka, who expressed what he learned from the day.

"That it may be the right choice for me,'' Issaka said.

Max Issaka
Issaka's trip to Rutgers was short, but several other players drove from long distances to attend the event.

Pottsgrove High (Pottstown, Pa.) four-star cornerback Terrell Chestnut made the journey so he could see mix and mingle with other recruits, talk to the coaches and also chat with a few of the current Scarlet Knights players.

"I got a chance to meet a lot of other recruits, and a chance to talk to a lot of players,'' Chestnut said. "I wanted to see the type of people I could potentially be surrounded by.''

Other non-committed players making the trip from out-of-state were four-star offensive lineman Donovan Smith of Owings Mills (Md.) High, offensive lineman Tripp Thurman of Dover (Del.) High, four-star running back Jameel Poteat of Bishop McDevitt High (Harrisburg), receiver Devon Cajuste of Holy Cross High (Flushing, N.Y.) and East Stroudsburg (Pa.) four-star cornerback Kyshoen Jarrett.

"I thought it was very relaxing. It was a nice event they put together,'' Cajuste said. "I was very comfortable with the coaches.''

There was also a heavy contingent from the Jersey Shore at the event, which was highlighted by the commitment of Neptune High's Charles Davis.

Middletown North defensive end/tight end Shilique Calhoun, Shuler, Red Bank Catholic tight end Jack Tabb and Raritan of Hazlet offensive lineman Shane Mertz also attended.

"Coach Schiano talked to us all with our families there, and in private,'' Mertz said. "He told us the program is going way up and we're not there to fix the program, we're there to join into the program.

"They already have great players. They have Tom Savage, they Mohamed Sanu. If we just come it's going to work into the greatness, and once we hit the greatness we're going to stay there. It's very intriguing.''

Among the other New Jersey players in attendance were Roxbury High four-star offensive lineman Angelo Mangiro, the St. Peter's Prep trio of offensive lineman Keith Lumpkin, four-star safety Sheldon Royster and Huggins, Bergen Catholic four-star receiver Tanner McEvoy, Union Senior High offensive lineman Josue Matias, Seton Hall Prep defensive end Connor Wujciak and Sayreville High (Parlin, N.J.) defensive tackle Daryl Stephenson.

"It was a great time, and coach Schiano talked about what Rutgers would be if we all stayed close to home and played there,'' Matias said. "He talked about winning a national championship and bringing that to New Jersey. It was very exciting to hear.''

Josue Matias
Players got a chance to talk with the coaching staff in an informal setting, had lunch, played video games, discussed Rutgers with several current Scarlet Knights and also talked amongst each other.

And it seems as though everyone got something out of the event.

"It's seeing the coaches again and getting to know the people,'' said McEvoy, whose brother, Colin, is a walk-on linebacker at Rutgers. "That's really a big part of my decision, knowing the coaches and the people. That's going to be who you're around the most when you're there. It was like hanging out with family and friends.''

Aside from Davis, three of Rutgers' commitments for the class of 2011 were in attendance, and each one spoke to non-committed players about the Scarlet Knights.

Christopher Columbus High (Bronx, N.Y.) defensive tackle Al Page spent time with Cajuste, Bishop Kearney (Rochester, N.Y.) four-star linebacker Quentin Gause spoke to a number of players, including Tabb, and Cumberland Valley High (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) linebacker Kevin Snyder was with fellow Keystone staters Poteat and Chestnut.

"I tried to talk Rutgers up as much as I can,'' Snyder said. "I tried to help the people thinking about Rutgers, and gave my aspect on it, which is other than what the coaches are saying about it. I talked to Terrell Chestnut and Jameel Poteat. I talked mostly to them.''


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