There is one prevailing notion regarding Rutgers' 2014 recruiting class, and that's quantity over quality. That's understandable, considering Coach Flood's need to replace all of the players who decommitted over the course of the season. What was once a very promising national top-20 class that could have been top four in the B1G is now nestled deep in the cellar with Illinois and Purdue. That's not to say that this class won't have some great players in the future. Every class generally has one or two under-the-radar recruits who end up being star players, maybe even NFL Draft selections.
That can be the case when a recruiter has been following a prospect for awhile, watching his development for signs of raw talent. However, in this case, it's hard to say how much Kyle Flood's recruiting team has been following some of these commits. When you grab players to replace decommits, it could be the case that the recruiter performed an expedited process and did not do all of his due diligence in scouting. After all, how could you keep up when recruits decommit close to the end of the season and leave you in a bind? Rutgers obtained six commitments between January 22 and today. How many of those guys were on Rutgers' radar long ago and how many were quick commitments?
Alas, we won't know the effect of this class immediately. Stars are only meant for projections, and class ratings do not guarantee success or failure. The 2011 class was highlighted by highly-touted recruits in Savon Huggins, Miles Shuler, and Gary Nova. One has been a bust, one can't stop throwing picks, and the other isn't even a member of the team anymore. So don't fret Scarlet Knight fans, 2014 could be a sleeper class that contributes to the turning point for the program.
Here is a quick breakdown of the 25-member class (all ratings based on 24/7 composite):
Marcus Applefield - OT, 6'6" 280 lbs. (Weeki Wachee, FL)
3* - 0.8377 rating
Built with a towering frame, Applefield is described as having a nastiness that will help finish off blocks. He will most likely redshirt considering the difficulty of acclimating to the offensive line at the next level, but he is definitely a program building commit.
Robert Martin - RB, 6'0" 190 lbs. (Harrisburg, PA)
3* - 0.8681 rating
While a bit tall at six feet, Martin plays like a cutback or scatback runner. He can make the cuts to make guys miss, and reaches top speed fairly quickly. He shows vision and patience when he runs, letting the plays develop. He definitely has the frame to add bulk and size, but it's possible it might diminish his agility.
Justin Nelson - OLB, 6'1" 245 lbs. (Wayne, NJ)
3* - 0.8681 rating
If Nelson was three or four inches taller, he would be a high four-star recruit and in the Rivals 250. He is an extremely explosive athlete and can play middle or outside linebacker, but will most likely be used in pass rush situations due to his size. With Joe Rossi set to take defensive coordinator duties, the small and fast scheme will remain.
Josh Hicks - RB, 5'10" 180 lbs. (Palmetto, FL)
3* - 0.8625 rating
Kyle Flood claims that he would put up Hicks' recruiting tape against any other running back in the country. He is a Jawan Jamison-type of runner: able to cutback and change direction, but leg power to bull rush defenders.
Sidney Gopre - OLB, 6'0" 200 lbs. (Newark, NJ)
3* - 0.8548 rating
Gopre is a ball hawk and has a nose for racking up the tackles. He has football speed similar to Steve Longa and can make the tackle from sideline to sideline if needed. One thing he'll need to work on is to add power and bulk so he can shed blocks more easily.
Andre Boggs - CB, 5'11" 175 lbs. (Avon, CT)
3* - 0.8449 rating
While Boggs has the top-end speed to be a slot-receiver, his skills project him as a cornerback. Body control is his greatest asset, as he can change direction and close on his target faster than other prospects. If he was just two inches taller, he could have been an elite level recruit.
Tariq Cole - OT, 6'6" 365 lbs. (Long Beach, NY)
3* - 0.8436 rating
You read that right: 365 pounds. You can't teach size, so there is no doubt Cole is an intriguing prospect. He is big for an NFL lineman, and he'll reach 6'7" if he grows just a tiny bit more. However, with sheer size like Cole's comes some drawbacks. He doesn't have that nastiness nor the technique that Applefield brings to finish blocks. That can be taught, however.
Jacquis Webb - OG, 6'4" 290 lbs. (Rochester, NY)
3* - 0.8425 rating
Another raw talent prospect, Webb has the ready-made size you want for a B1G-caliber offensive line. He doesn't have the athleticism you want for tackle, so he will most likely end up as a guard. He has the capability to become a force against opposing defensive tackles to open up holes for the running game.
Kam Lott - CB, 5'10" 180 lbs. (Jacksonville, FL)
3* - 0.8400 rating
Lott has everything you want in a corner: SEC speed, hips that give him great change-in-direction, and instincts to locate the ball. He is excellent in man-to-man coverage, which is exactly what Rutgers needs when the scheme is blitz-heavy. His height is the only thing holding him back from a higher rating.
Kevin Wilkins - OG/DT, 6'4" 278 lbs. (Montvale, NJ)
3* - 0.8344 rating
Boasting sub 5.0 forty-yard dash speed, Wilkins has the athleticism to play on both sides of the line. His speed gives him great burst to knock blockers back on their feet, while his lower leg strength provides a good push on the offensive side of the ball. With the upcoming depth along the offensive line, look for Wilkins to find a home at defensive tackle.
Saquan Hampton - CB, 6'2" 185 lbs. (Hamilton, NJ)
3* - 0.8344 rating
While Hampton is being recruited as a cornerback, he has the frame to become a playmaking safety. He has the hips and acceleration to make plays on wide receivers, but also the height to compete for jump balls. Some added bulk to his frame combined with his cover skills would make him a rare talent in the defensive backfield.
Zack Heeman - OT, 6'8" 280 lbs. (Flanders, NJ)
3* - .8302 rating
It's good to see Rutgers getting these big lineman prospects, as the physicality of the Big Ten will bring a need for size to compete at a high level. Heeman was recruited for his large frame - he'll need a couple years to develop the skill set to fully realize his true potential.
Jacob Kraut - FB, 5'11" 240 lbs. (Neptune Beach, FL)
3* - 0.8291 rating
Kraut comes in at a good time for the program, as both Michael Burton and Sam Bergen will be entering their fifth and final years in Piscataway. He already has everything you want in a fullback: size, strength, and versatility. With the Rutgers' offense so dependent on the fullback position, Kraut's commitment was crucial for the 2014 class.
Jimmy Hogan - DE, 6'5" 225 lbs. (Franklin Lakes, NJ)
3* - 0.8224 rating
Hogan has such a versatile skill-set that he can compete at multiple positions along the defensive line. The one drawback is his current weight. To be a consistent chaotic force, he'll definitely have to add some bulk to his frame. Darius Hamilton was a little light for the three-technique tackle position, so Hogan is without a doubt somewhat light. He has a tremendous work ethic, so if he can just add more muscle he'll follow in the footsteps of Hamilton.
Logan Lister - OG/TE-Y, 6'4" 260 lbs. (Katy, TX)
3* - 0.8220 rating
As a Y tight end, Lister was brought on to be more of a blocker than a pass-catcher, which explains his versatility as both a TE recruit as well as a guard recruit. However, that's only because of his current skill set. If he can develop his catching skills, he'll be a versatile weapon that can give opposing defenses fits.
Eric Wiafe - DT, 6'5" 250 lbs. (New Berlin, NY)
3* - 0.8208 rating
At 6'5", 250 pounds, Wiafe possesses the build you want for a defensive lineman. His combination of size and strength will pay dividends in the rigor of the Big Ten trenches. I believe defensive line coach Jim Panagos can coach Wiafe up and mold him into a more polished prospect.
Donald Bedell - DE, 6'4" 230 lbs. (Rumson, NJ)
3* - 0.8073 rating
Bedell is an intriguing prospect, because he has good speed to rush the quarterback in passing situations. However, it's possible to bend him back due to his weight. You can say that he currently fits the Rutgers mold of faster, somewhat lighter defenders. We'll see if the tried-and-true Rutgers scheme will work in the B1G.
Giovanni Rescigno - QB, 6'4" 210 lbs. (Warren, MI)
3* - 0.7985 rating
Rescigno was recently upgraded to a four-star recruit by ESPN, and that makes sense considering his high school career. He sat behind former top-recruit and current Michigan Wolverine Shane Morris until his senior year, so there isn't a ton of highlight film. He does show good accuracy and capable arm strength, although better mechanics can help him add zip to some of his throws.
Brandon Russell - OLB, 6'1" 205 lbs. (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
2* - 0.7919 rating
Russell is a bit undersized as a linebacker, and his stout frame makes him good for attacking blockers and getting below pad level. While his sideline-to-sideline lateral athleticism leaves a little to be desired, he has a good straight-line burst that is good for rushing offensive guards.
George Behr - TE, 6'5" 235 lbs. (Saint Paul, MN)
2* - 0.7841 rating
A towering tight end prospect at 6'5", Behr has the physical tools to measure up in the B1G. He has soft hands that make him a big target for quarterbacks. He'll definitely need to work on his blocking technique and his route running since he doesn't display elite burst off the line.
Isaiah Wharton - CB, 6'1" 185 lbs. (Kissimmee, FL)
2* - 0.7683 rating
A rangy cornerback prospect, Wharton has good size and is a physical defender. He can jam receivers at the line and re-direct them out of their routes. He lacks acceleration, so it's possible he can be moved to a safety position.
Darian Dailey - CB, 5'11" 177 lbs. (Bradenton, FL)
2* - 0.7619 rating
Dailey is reported to run a 4.35 forty-yard dash, so speed is trait that runs well in his veins. After more seasoning in a collegiate level program, he can develop his game to be a true lockdown corner.
Sam Blue - OLB, 6'2" 232 lbs. (Raleigh, NC)
2* - 0.7333 rating
Blue was previously committed to Georgetown and is also a member of the National Honor Society, which makes him a good fit as a Rutgers student-athlete. His recruiting process was somewhat fast, so his projection in the LB unit is still undecided.
Alan Lucy - LS, 6'0" 230 lbs. (Dinwiddie, VA)
2* - 0.7000 rating
With Robert Jones graduating, Kyle Flood had a big need for a long snapper, and he found one in Lucy.
Eric Margolis - OLB, 6'4" 215 lbs. (New City, NY)
2* - 0.7000 rating
Margolis was recruited as a wide receiver at Maine and Rhode Island, so he definitely has speed. A tall prospect, Rossi might want him to emulate Jamal Merrell, who was a tall and rangy linebacker with similar size.