To introduce myself to the On the Banks community and #CHOPnation, I want to share a dream. Like all great dreams, the ones you do not want interrupted by the harsh buzz of the alarm clock and the intrusion of reality, this dream is about unbridled possibility.
This is the 2015 recruiting class Kyle Flood could pull to Rutgers if everything comes together just right: a strong rookie campaign in the B1G punctuated by a few stunners over our new rivals (here’s looking at you, Nitty Kitties); a potent coaching staff led by a resurgent Coach Flood with guidance from the legendary Fridge and recruiting help from some Midwest veterans and RU prodigal sons; a return to the ferocious defense that has been at the heart of the best Rutgers squads of the past decade; and a group decision by New Jersey’s best young athletes to ignore the siren song of "somewhere else" and build a champion at home.
For decades, Rutgers fans have lamented the loss of home-grown talent to the likes of Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Miami, and the other familiar predators of the Big Ten, SEC and ACC. "If only we could lock down the Jersey kids," the refrain goes, "we could build a juggernaut in Piscataway."
That is where my wish-list starts – with RU securing the top New Jersey talent, and then picking off some great players from Pennsylvania, the D.C. area, New England, Florida and the Midwest. Rutgers has two commits already for the 2015 class, and schools typically accept 25-30 per year. That leaves a lot of room for dreaming:
Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, St. Peter's Prep, 5* -- Fitzpatrick is a versatile athlete from St. Peter's Prep in Jersey City, and he is being recruited by the Who's Who of College Football, with more than 30 offers including Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, Michigan, Auburn, South Carolina, Georgia, Miami and Stanford. He is one of the most sought-after prospects in the country.
Tim Settle, DL, Manassas, Virginia, 5* -- Settle is an explosive pass rusher from Virginia. He recently took an unofficial (meaning "at his own expense") visit to Rutgers, and spent the day touring the facilities and meeting the coaching staff. By all accounts, he enjoyed the visit, and his commitment would be a huge victory for Flood and company.
John Reid, CB, Philadelphia, PA, 4* -- Reid is one of the most talented defensive backs in the country. He measures in at 5’10", 175 lbs., and boasts offers from Alabama, Penn State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Miami and West Virginia.
Steven Gonzalez, OL, Union City, 4* -- Gonzalez is a 6’4" 300 pound offensive lineman from Union City. In addition to RU, he holds more than a dozen offers from schools including Ohio State, Penn State, Boston College, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Louisville. Gonzalez is one of the prizes of the New Jersey 2015 class, and would be a major get for RU, but Coach Flood and company have a lot of ground to make up. Gonzalez claims OSU as his favorite, followed by the James Franklin gang, with RU in the mix after a positive junior day visit a few weeks ago.
Christian Wilkins, DL Suffield Academy (Conn.), 4* -- Wilkins is a massive, 6’4", 290 pound defensive tackle, and ranks as one of the best players in New England. In addition to Rutgers, he holds offers from Boston College, UConn, Florida State, Iowa, Maryland, Notre Dame Ohio State, Penn State, Stanford, and Virginia.
#WhyNotHome? – Jersey’s Finest
Kareem Ali, 4* DB, Timber Creek
Dontae Strickland, 4* ATH, South Brunswick
Jamie Gordinier, 4* DL, Red Bank Catholic
Manny Bowen, 4* LB, Barnegat
Irvin Charles, 4* WR, Paul VI (Haddonfield)
Daiquan Kelly, 4* WR, Union City
Grant Newsome, 4* OL, Lawrenceville
Sam Madden, 4* OL, Barnegat
Tommy Hatton, 4* OL St. Joe’s (Montvale)
Brandon Wimbush, 4* Dual Threat QB, St. Peters Prep
Mike Dare, 3* Pro-Style QB, Elmwood Park (already committed)
Joe Giles Harris, 3*, LB, St. Joe’s (Montvale)
Myles Hartsfield, 3* ATH, Sayreville
Daivon Ellison, 3*, ATH, Don Bosco
Ronnie James, 3*, ATH, Glassboro (Paul James’ younger brother)
Jake Pickard, 3* TE, Millburn
Nakia Griffin, 3* TE, Tenafly (already committed)
Clay Kemp, DL, St. John Vianney (Holmdel)
Jordan Fox, LB/TE, St. Peters Prep
Alkadair Ports, RB/DB, Weequahic
Out of State Targets
Marcus Lewis, 4* DB/ATH, Gonzaga (D.C.)
Jalen Christian, 4* DB/ATH, Damascus (MD)
Jabari Greenwood, 4* WR, Gonzaga (D.C.)
Shareef Miller, 3* DL, Frankford (Philadelphia)
Riley Nicholson, 3* LB, Osceola (Florida)
Quadree Henderson, 3* RB, Dupont (Wilmington DE)
Nasir Bonner, 3* RB, Imhotep (Philadelphia)
Eric Assoua, DL, St. John’s College (D.C.)
How good would this class be? The Buckeyes ranked third last year with 1 five-star, 15 four-stars, and 7 three-stars, and the national champion Seminoles ranked fourth with 2 five-stars, 14 four-stars, and 12 three-stars. If RU lands 2 five-stars, 16 four-stars, and 11 three-stars, it would be one of the best classes in the country, a top-five caliber group.
Who’s on your dream list? Tell me who I missed in the comments and on Twitter @eganandy1, and stick with On the Banks for recruiting updates as Rutgers builds its 2015 class and lays the foundation for B1G success.