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Magic Numbers

One consequence of a weak local crop of talent in the class of 2010 is that Rutgers will likely, once again, have to focus on importing difference makers at the skill positions from the state of Florida. As Rutgers fans are likely aware at this point, the Scarlet Knights used that playbook to great effect in the early years of Greg Schiano's tenure. Rutgers bought several billboards, and ran popular (since banned, owing to rent seeking by Southern coaches) camps in the area. When the now-departed Darren Rizzi and Chris Demarest were on staff, Rutgers wouldn't beat any of the "Big Three" in-state powers (Miami, Florida, and Florida State) for players, but would regularly go against the top ACC and SEC programs for recruits. Occasionally, they would even win.

Rutgers signed, literally, its biggest talent ever out of Florida last year with defensive tackle Antwan Lowery, but didn't make all that much noise in the Sunshine State as a whole. Part of that owes to increased success at home (in a good year for New Jersey) and in the Philadelphia region, but I'd also credit not having Rizzi and Demo on staff opening doors. This spring, Coach Schiano hired Brian Jenkins away from Louisiana-Lafayette as his new receivers coach. Jenkins may very well be adept in that area, but his primary purpose is surely to get the Scarlet Knights back in play in the lucrative Florida talent pool. While Rutgers primarily focused on Southern Florida in the past, they now look to be extending more offers throughout every region of the state.

This gambit could well pay off lucratively, if only for the simple fact that Florida has positively far more skill position talent this year than the Big Three could possibly use (especially since they will take prospects from out of state). Just look at this sample, and certainly incomplete, list of receivers/athletes.

Tarean Austin
Kadron Boone
Shawn Corker
Chris Dunkley
Christian Green
Quinton Dunbar
De'Joshua Johnson
James Louis
Michaelee Harris
Ivan McCartney
Ted Meline
Ricardo Miller
Darius Millines
Fred Pickett
Josh Reese
O.J. Ross
Ace Sanders
Kenny Shaw
Jarvis West
Willis Wright

The running back class is almost as loaded, with the likes of Giovanni Bernard, Eduardo Clements, Antwon Chisholm (well, not anymore), Jeremy Deering, Roy Finch, Brandon Gainer, Ethan Grant, Jakhari Gore, Darion Hall, Donnell Kirkwood, Corvin Lamb, Cassius McDowell, James Potts, James White, and Devin Wright among many, many others. Never mind the overlap between the skill positions and potential defensive backs.

Florida talent is too numerous, and too deep, to ignore. If just in terms of playing the odds of the off chance that one of them will bite, I'd like to see more offers sent in. They likely are; owing to the state's incredible depth (topping California and Texas to reign supreme over all challengers), it can be difficult at times to confirm offers beyond the bigger names.