As athletes finish school for the year, many take advantage of their new-found free time to take college visits, and hit the camp scene. There are (at least) three high-profile visits RU fans need to understand right now. These kids are potential building blocks for future Knight success.
Kalif Jackson, Fletcher HS (Neptune Beach, Florida) - WR
Jackson is a 6'5" 200 pound receiver from Florida, with a monster offer list. In addition to Rutgers, Jackson boasts offers from BC, Cal, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Maryland, Missouri, UCF, Wake Forest, West Virginia and Wisconsin, among others.
Kalif's Junior year, midseason highlights are impressive. He shows tremendous athletic ability, including a sky-high vertical leap. I especially like the catches at 0:40, 1:07 and 2:20. Jackson is a long strider, and he uses his big frame to separate from coverage. Welcome news for Rutgers fans, he is also great at catching the ball with his hands, instead of waiting for it to come to his chest.
Jackson also has several NJ and Rutgers connections. As stated to Todderick Hunt in April:
"I like Rutgers, it's a good school," said Jackson. "My mom went there for law school, and my dad grew up in Franklin Township, so I'm kind of familiar with that area. My friend Kamren (Lott) plays on the team right now and I've known him since I was a little kid. And my friend Jacob (Kraut) is coming in next year (this summer)."
Jackson was at Rutgers all day Monday for an unofficial visit (meaning on his own dime). If Twitter is any indication, the visit seemed to go well.
Great visit today at Rutgers pic.twitter.com/TVEVm6SeWe— Kalif Jackson (@Jackson_Kalif84) June 2, 2014
And then hours later. . .
June 2, 2014
And from his coach (retweeted by Jackson). . .
The #CHOPNation was laying it on my man @Jackson_Kalif84 something fierce today. Glad you had a good visit travel safe #Rutgers #BeachRats— Josh Corey (@coachjcorey) June 3, 2014
Jackson would be a huge pickup for the Scarlet Knights, and could really be a momentum shifter in this class. Aside from the newly converted Dre Boggs, Rutgers has not secured a commitment from a pure WR prospect (and actually signed that prospect) since Janarion Grant committed on January 29, 2013. Yikes.
Daiquan Kelly, Union City - S/WR
Union City's Daiquan Kelly is a 6'3" 200 lb. athlete Rutgers is recruiting as a safety. He visited campus Friday, and had a tremendously positive experience. Before that visit, the consensus was Kelly had Rutgers in third place, behind Pitt and Syracuse. After the visit, Kelly told Todderick Hunt that Rutgers was actually in second, running closely behind Michigan State, with Cuse and Pitt somewhere behind RU.
Kelly's interaction with current Knights Nadir Barnwell and Keith Lumpkin was a tremendous factor in Rutgers improvement in Kelly's eyes. As he told Todderick:
"It made me take a second chance on Rutgers. When I sat down and talked to the players -- because I never talked to the players at any college, so that was my first time – I learned a lot about the school, and it felt great."
Kelly was impressed by Rutgers well-known family atmosphere.
A four-star prospect, obtaining a commitment from Kelly at safety would be a tremendous victory for Kyle Flood and the staff. He has offers from Michigan State, Syracuse, Pitt, BC, Nebraska, UConn and Virgina. Rutgers has a lot of depth at cornerback, but not nearly as much at safety, and Kelly could be an early contributor from that position.
His recruitment could also serve to mend some fences with a loaded Union City program, as some people believe Union City coach WIlmer Valdez is not a Scarlet Knights supporter, after high profile offensive linemen chose other schools (Josue Matias to FSU, Steven Gonzelz to ttfp). Union City has a few other D-1 caliber prospects, and is one of the more fertile recruiting bases among the North Jersey public schools.
Myles Hartsfield, Sayreville - DB
Hartsfield is a 5'11" 185 lb. athlete Rutgers is also recruiting as a safety. His recruitment has narrowed to ttfp and Rutgers, with Hartsfield giving ttfp a slight edge. He told Todderick the difference is mostly about the quality of the recruiting classes, and that just a few "higher tier" recruits could push Rutgers to the front (note to Myles: If you lead, they will follow).
Hartsfield will visit State College this weekend. James Franklin is notoriously good at closing recruits on visits, so if Myles is still a free agent on Monday, that is a very good omen for Rutgers. But it may not be a matter of Franklin failing to convince Myles - there may not be any room for another DB in ttfp's class. D.C. safety Aryon Moore committed to the Nitty Kitties on May 10, 2014, and there is some speculation that he may have foreclosed Hartsfield's opportunity. Rutgers fans certainly hope so, as we would welcome Hartsfield with open arms.
* * *
Stick with On the Banks as we follow these developing situations. Pulling in two (or all three) of these guys would go a long way toward improving this class, and they could have a "pied piper" effect on other top talent.