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Rutgers Football Recruiting: Big Ten Post-spring Rankings

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Are sunnier days ahead for Rutgers football recruiting?

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Yesterday all major recruiting services released their current 2016 class rankings to date.  Yes it is only May.  All commitments are verbal and we are still 9 months away from National Signing Day.  Most schools have less than half their class filled and everything can change from now until then.  However, as I wrote Sunday, Rutgers needs to start building momentum with this class and land some big names soon.

In addition, Gerry DiNardo, Big Ten Network Analyst, tweeted out class rankings of all the Big Ten schools.  Here is a summary list of current compiled national average rankings from all services:

#2 Ohio State            

#14 Penn State         

#23 Michigan State   

#25 Minnesota          

#26 Michigan              

#31 Maryland           

#36 Nebraska           

# 47 Illinois                    

#50 Wisconsin           

#51 Rutgers               

#57 Northwestern    

#69 Iowa                      

#80 Purdue                  

#85 Indiana                 

The fact that it is only May means a school can move up and down the current rankings very quickly.  To compare, Maryland is ranked significantly higher than Rutgers.  However, digging deeper they have one 4-star commit, five 3-star commits and one 2-star.  The reality is the one 4-star commit and #289 in the ESPN Top 300, OLB Keandre Jones from Olney, MD is the reason they are ranked so far ahead of Rutgers.  And that has been and is the biggest deficiency during the Flood era, keeping 4-star in-state talent home that becomes the foundation for prolonged success.

Rutgers has started the 2016 class with a solid base comprised of four 3-star recruits:

WR Mo Jabbie                                                  

LB Jonathon Pollock

OL Nick Krimin

RB Trey Sneed

As Andy Egan wrote in March, Coach Flood was off to his best start ever, nabbing four quality recruits early in the recruiting season.  However, since March there have been no new commitments.  While we are far from panic time, it is fair to say since Flood took over for Schiano in 2012, he has not been on the same level with recruiting in terms of results.  This leads to a perception problem and the longer this recruiting season goes without RU landing a 4-star in-state recruit, the harder it will be.

The past 4 seasons, ESPN has ranked RU’s classes as follows:

2012 24th

2013 37th

2014 56th

2015 52nd

Flood deserved and received credit for saving the 2012 class being hired less than a week before National Signing Day, which included Darius Hamilton.  The 2014 debacle of multiple decommitments of top NJ recruits dropped the class to its worst ranking in years.  The 2015 class is loaded with twenty-two 3-star recruits, but no big names and again ended up ranked across the board in the fifties.   

The positive in all this is that Rutgers has never had so many big names on campus together.  Flood and Director of Recruiting EJ Barthel have given themselves a shot at hitting it big with the 2016 class.  Below is a list of ESPN Top 300 recruits that have offers and have visited campus in recent weeks:

#1 Rashan Gary DT Paramus, NJ

#20 Kareem Walker RB Wayne, NJ (OSU Commit)

#25 Dwayne Haskins Jr QB Potomac, MD

#73 Ron Johnson, DE, Camden, NJ

#87 Karamo Dioubate DE, Philadelphia, PA

#137 Jordan Fuller ATH Old Tappan, NJ

#151 Naseir Upshur TE Philadelphia, PA

#179 Brad Hawkins WR Camden, NJ

#198 Ahmir Mitchell WR Egg Harbor City, NJ

#269 Quayshon Alexander DE Wayne, NJ

In addition, Rutgers has offers out to four other players from Maryland and Washington D.C. in the ESPN Top 300.  ATH Trevon Diggs is ranked #114, OG Richard Merritt is ranked #161, WR Steven Smothers is #227 and S Eric Burrell is ranked #263. 

Is it a pipe dream to think that several or even any of these recruits will ultimately commit to Rutgers? The skeptics say RU has no chance and that these players are simply giving a courtesy to their state school.  However, many of these top recruits have visited multiple times and seem to be seriously talking about coming together.

Todderick Hunt reported on May 4th that several key NJ players organized their own visit to Rutgers without assistance from the staff.  The group included Ahmir Mitchell, Ron Johnson, Brad Hawkins, Kelvin Harmon, and Jamal Holloway.  Johnson stated, "Everybody likes Rutgers. They just love Rutgers because they show a lot of love," Johnson told NJ Advance Media. "And it's a big program. They're in the Big Ten now and we don't have to go far and stuff like that. That's just what everybody is saying. So I don't know exactly what would it take, but I believe Rutgers is gonna get some of us, I know that. Like, Rutgers is high on all of our lists, so, like, I wouldn't be surprised if we all go there."

EJ Barthel was a tremendous hire by Flood and hopefully will make a difference that leads to more recruiting success.  His connections and ability to relate to recruits has helped cultivate so many high profile visits.  He has personal connections with some class of 2016 recruits from his personal training business before his time at Rutgers.  It seems his commitment, enthusiasm and passion for Rutgers should make him successful as long as he holds the position. 

I know there are many doubters that top local talent are not seriously considering Rutgers.  This thinking is a negative result from past years and not an accurate picture of the potential for this class.  Rutgers proved they could compete in the Big Ten last year and that performance along with forward thinking from Kyle Flood and staff has created a realistic opportunity to land big local talent on a consistent basis.  But the time is now and Flood needs to start closing on these big names for perception to change.  Here is to hoping the floodgates open soon, pun intended!