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12/1 Recruiting Update

The big news of the past week was that Downingtown, PA lineman Taj Alexander committed to Rutgers. He could end up on either line. OL is the bigger need, but Rutgers doesn't have any DTs committed in this year's class.

Visit weekend #1 is coming up, and Kristian Dyer knows exactly what RU recruitniks want for Chrismukwanzaa.

I can't emphasize the following point enough: there has been a LOT of info on the premium sites regarding visits, that I can't mention here. I link to what's freely available, but these links are only scratching the surface of what's in store. Many prospects will be on campus soon; good ones.

Hamilton lineman Frank Quartucci may enroll early (the article has more). I think this is a good development, as it makes it easier to take another lineman for the class of '10, making up for smaller numbers in last year's class.

Quartucci plans to graduate in January so he can enroll at Rutgers and get an early start on his Scarlet Knights career.

Florida RB Casey Turner is a FIU commit, but still plans to visit this weekend.

A coach from Rutgers called me and asked if I had committed and I told him I had. I haven't heard from them lately since then. I think some teams have backed off a little bit since I committed. I still have a visit lined up to Rutgers for Dec. 5. I'm looking forward to getting out of Florida for a bit and seeing something different.I still consider myself a soft verbal. It's up to the other schools, though. It's their decision whether to keep recruiting me.

RB Devon Wright is another confirmed visitor. Many Daytona Beach area Rutgers targets were on the field in the Mainland/DeLand game. Rutgers is still in contact with Jeremy Deering. Here's another article on Deering. FL DT Richard Ash will visit Rutgers this weekend, although talk is that he's about to commit to West Virginia.

So, who exactly is Lackawanna CC safety Herschel Thornton, and why is he suddenly listed as having an offer on Rivals?

For anyone wondering, Bennett Jackson plans to stick with Notre Dame, if the new coach will have him. Don't fret, as ND ain't the only carrion around.

CT DT Bjoern Werner is high on Oregon's list.

PA DB Cullen Christian committed to Michigan. North Brunswick DB Andrew Opoku is finally listed as having an offer on Rivals and Scout, but committed to UConn, which was a bit of a surprise.

Watchlist: Gareef Glashen, Fred Overstreet, Quinton Pompey, and Chris Valenti (thanks to nik12)

There wasn't all that much in the way of new (public) developments over the past week due to the holiday, so below I want to respond to commentor Section117, regarding his reaction to the Alexander commit last week.

He commented,

Please … do you really believe that RU did that much more homework on a kid with his size than any other D-1 program? There are no secrets in PA or NJ.

There are no secrets at Don Bosco or St. Peter's Prep, but Rutgers found Steve Beauharnais at a small school, before he transferred to St. Joe's and was the best defender in Bergen County last year. Similarly, I don't care at all that Betim Bujari and J.T. Tartacoff don't have any other offers. Both committed very early and were certain to receive more. They're pretty solid bets for this class, as are Marcus Thompson and Jawaun Wynn. Bergen too, if he's healthy. Of the current commits, the guy I'm most excited about though is Jordan Thomas, who combines the total package of a scouting pedigree and a ridiculously productive seniro season.

With Alexander, he's a complete mystery due to supposedly growing 50 lbs and 5 inches in the past year. Given how the Philly Inquirer lavished praise on him in that article I linked last week, he presumably has had a big senior season, and the staff are the ones watching his film and seeing his games in person. I don't know if commits like Alexander or Milewski will be good or bad, there's very little to go on either way. There's nothing at all to go on besides their supposed big senior seasons. With linemen in general, you have to take into account that the bust rate on even the top prospects is very, very high.

Now, where this argument may fit is with Chas Dodd. Even though he continues to pile up gaudy statistics, it's telling that nearly every FBS school east of the Mississippi River has film of South Carolina powerhouse Byrnes, and Rutgers remains his only FBS offer. Dodd's numbers certainly owe a lot to his ridiculous supporting cast (nearly every opponent is overmatched), and pass-friendly spread scheme. Now, he could turn into Chase Daniel, but for every success like that, there are many reaches that don't pan out. Lots of big name prospects will bust too.

Me, I don't really like quarterbacks with Dodd's skillset as potential starters; I prefer the more traditional pocket QBs like Joe Brennan, even though there's a case for wanting a backup that brings a change of pace to the offense. There is always a place for a kid who can scramble a little and has good accuracy. Now, the staff could have had Brennan if they wanted, and chose Dodd, so that does have to impact any evaluations here. They're not always right, but do have a fairly decent track record. I would have chosen Brennan for the above reason, and because he was a bigger name, and a local, I think he would have done a better job of enticing other local prospects this year.

Either way, between a down year for quarterbacks, and the widespread (and correct) belief that Tom Savage has a stranglehold on the Rutgers starting job, it probably wasn't realistic to nab that good of a prospect behind him this year, although we could have used one with the depth issues at the position. Next year though, Rutgers definitely needs to recruit one if not several big arms who have a shot at being the quarterback of the future after Savage heads out the door. That's why I follow recruiting; not to obsess over stars and rankings, but it is important to know who exactly is coming down the pike.

When it comes to any fan disappointment with this year's class, it's absolutely ridiculous to judge it until the staff actually starts to bring some prospects on campus for official visits, especially with some recruiting weekends coming up soon. Many good names are still left on the board, and more are coming into the picture on a daily basis. Plus, you never know what'll happen with decommitments and such, and there's bound to be some turnover resulting from the coaching carousel.

As nice it would be to bring in the cream of the crop, Rutgers hasn't gotten very many of those guys at any point in its history. What's truly essential is to land those bread and butter, middle of the road guys. It wasn't very long ago that those players were spurning RU and heading out of state. Fans were a little spoiled by last year, which combined having a blue chip QB in Savage to help recruit all the other prospects, and a bountiful crop in New Jersey.

Between limited ships, and the down '10 class, I never expected to do as well this year, although RU has missed on a few players that I thought would be Knights (which happens every year, as do pleasant surprises). Still, it's early. Also, I want to make clear that despite my obvious interest in the topic of recruiting, it's important to remember that it's only part of the equation. That's why Charlie Weis is out of a job today. The coaching staff makes the final call about which players to go after, which is evidenced by the fact that they haven't even offered so many of the supposed top local players according to Rivals and Scout. For this year to be a success, the coaching staff needs to fill assorted future roster needs (especially on the OL, RB, and WR), and land a good portion of players that they had identified as top targets and important gets.