Grading the 2011 Recruiting Class

Note: 2010 commits that went to prep school will not be re-evaluated here, although all three look like strong prospects.

QB - Mike Bimonte is a complete lottery ticket. having went through a late growth spurt and playing in a run heavy offense. He was by far and away the best quarterback at the team's June recruiting camp, and has sufficient size and arm strength to be worthy of a flier. Gary Nova is an accurate passer with good mobility, although his arm is not as good as Bimonte's, which somewhat limits his upside. Nova is the more polished of the two passers, and could be ready to play sooner rather than later if he gets a good grasp of Frank Cignetti's offense. Relative: B+ (Rutgers badly needed quarterback depth, and signed two with a pulse.) Overall: B

RB - Savon Huggins is one of the best prospects in the entire country, and stands a good chance to start as a true freshman if he can master secondary skills like ball security, pass protection, and receiving (which often beguile underclassmen). Looking at his upright running style, you can squint and almost imagine Adrian Peterson or Eric Dickerson, although generally that is not a great trait when not dealing with elite talents. His success in 2011 will be largely dependent on offensive line play.

Rutgers needed fullbacks with a switch back to the pro-style offense, and Paul Canevari offers the additional benefit of hailing from Don Bosco Prep, which has a very strong junior class. Had an excellent senior season running the football, although he is unlikely to contribute in that role in college. It's always somewhat of a challenge trying to project a player into a different role on the next level. Canevari will have to add muscle and focus on blocking. Henry Hynoski was used a fair bit as a receiving at Pitt, and was much more of a traditional blocking type than a Brian Leonard. Relative: A+ Overall A+

WR - Miles Shuler-Foster mostly played quarterback and defensive back last fall. Coupled with Rutgers having strong depth at the position, he is most likely going to redshirt. Why should everyone be so excited about Shuler then? A couple reasons. Shuler is the fastest player in the state (which is doubly impressive with Tejay Johnson in the fold), recording the second fastest 100-meter dash time in New Jersey history last summer. In fact, Shuler is a national champion in track. Oh, and he also has nuclear-grade intangibles, which have already made him a fan favorite in Piscataway before he's even played a snap in Rutgers Stadium. Shuler and his father are responsible for recruiting a decent chunk of the 2011 class. Now their focus shifts to 2012 Shore Conference stars like Ryan Brodie and Jazzmar Clax. Relative: B+ Overall A

TE - Tyler Kroft turned in a very strong senior season. He played receiver in high school, but has the frame to grow into a traditional tight end. Rutgers badly needed depth at this position; it would not be a huge surprise if one of the defenders eventually switched over. Also can punt. Relative: B Overall B

OL - Offensive line was seemingly the sore spot in an otherwise excellent 2009 recruiting class, and leading up to signing day that was looking to be the case again. Rutgers did land a junior college signee in Dallas Hendrikson who will immediately move into the two-deep. Keith Lumpkin is very raw, but has a lot of potential at tackle. After a few late decommits, this group was shored up by the late commitment of Kaleb Johnson. Rutgers is very quietly building good depth at guard, although they badly could have used one more solid tackle prospect. There is a good chance that a defensive tackle prospect like Marquise Wright moves to this side of the ball. Relative: B- Overall: B

DE - Max Issaka has one of the most athletic highlight tapes out there from the defensive end position. That won't mean much without player development, but you watch his foot speed and almost drool thinking about what he could do in a Greg Schiano defense that emphasizes athleticism above all other qualities.

Kyle George went somewhat under the radar due to being from South Jersey, but he's plenty explosive in his own right. Good production too, with twelve sacks as a senior. He also played some tight end. Myles Jackson is more under the radar than Issaka and George. Jackson has football bloodlines; his uncle is O.J. Anderson, and Chevis Jackson and JaMarcus Russell are cousins.

None of the three are likely to play from day one, although Rutgers needed bodies here in a bad way. Relative: B Overall B

DT - Al Page...barely played in 2010 due to injuries. Recruiting and developing defensive tackles is always a huge talent, but Page moves very well for a player of his size. The staff loves his potential and was on him very early. Daryl Stephenson was another early offer. He isn't the physical specimen that Page is, but is a closer fit to the Schiano model of twisting, stunting, athletic defensive tackles. Stephenson formed a very good combination with end Syd Holt for Sayreville this year. Also has a strong leg, and his younger brother Delon will be a 2012 athlete prospect. Marquise Wright could play here, especially with an uncertain depth chart, but is more likely to play offense. Relative: B+ Overall B

LB - Honestly, Quentin Gause's film does not stand out all that much. With Gause, it's all about projection. When you think Rutgers linebackers, they aren't going to run an Eric LeGrand out there to stuff the run inside for two plays and then come out for an extra defensive back. Those guys grow into ends and tackles here. Rutgers wants players who can run; guys who would probably play safety for a lit of teams, and Gause definitely fits the bill there. He has to be evaluated in that context, and as such projects will into the team's defense. Like Shuler, also another top intangibles guy.

Kevin Snyder honestly wasn't on my radar at all before he committed, although his good 40 time and coverage ability stood out. Over the year I came across a good deal of local Pennsylvanians who raved about Snyder and wished he would have ended up at Penn State or Pitt. When looking at what the various recruiting experts had to say last week, all were pretty much in agreement that Snyder was a real find and should be a good player. The only real downside is that Rutgers could have probably used another body here. Relative: B Overall: B

DB - This area as some uncertainty, as Rutgers has a fairly deep roster here as is, and this year's signees aren't necessarily set on a position. Johnathan Aiken enrolled early in classes. He was a solid get out of Florida, but hurt his knee and then transferred schools in the fall. It's somewhat of a similar story for Charles Davis, who transferred to Neptune before his junior season, broke his wrist as a junior, and then hurt his leg as a senior. Davis was one of the earliest offers in the class though, and is very underrated. He has a chance to play offense, but the odds are against it given the team depth at WR. Ben Martin (who was listed as a running back last week) had a strong junior season rushing the ball, but battled through an ankle injury last year. Overall: B- Relative: B-

P - With Kyle Sullivan no longer listed on the official team roster, presumably he was not promised a scholarship for next fall. Therefore, it's fair to infer that Anthony DiPaula is a better option. With Teddy Dellaganna graduating, DiPaula will likely take over punting and kickoffs as a true freshman. Special teams recruiting is difficult. With punters, it's not always necessarily about leg strength. They have to master quick releases, hang time, directional kicks, etc... Relative: B- Overall C+

Rutgers did a fairly good job of meeting its needs while at the same time trying to secure the best available talent. Like 2009, while this is a very good class, it came frustratingly close to meeting the high expectations set by another banner year in-state. While it's too early to judge next year yet, the early signs are relatively positive. One thing's for sure: we probably aren't going to see another one of these types of classes. Either Rutgers will get it done on the field and clean up across the state, or the team will struggle and the heat will really start to come on. Regardless, the staff should once again be in a strong early position, even more so now with the additions of Frank Cignetti, Jeff Hafley, and Brian Angelichio from the old Pittsburgh staff.

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