Football recruiting draws a lot of attention around here. And the emotions come out when a Jarrett Guarantano or Dwayne Haskins find greener pastures outside New Jersey. But we're looking through scarlet-colored glasses. And whether we feel Kyle Flood is doing a great job or needs to update his resume, we aren't necessarily objective. So what does someone from outside the Scarlet-sphere-of-influence think about RU's football recruiting?
Bud Elliott is the National Recruiting Analyst & Editor for SBNation.com. He's a Florida native and an attorney, holding degrees from Alabama and Florida State, both of which - if you hadn't heard - have fan bases that are obsessed with recruiting. He was good enough to answer a few questions about recruiting and how it effects Rutgers.
On Kyle Flood
OTB: Let's start off with a softball and one close to home: 2016 is recruiting class four coming up for Kyle Flood. Depending on which service you look at, Rutgers is currently 37 nationally/10 B1G (247) or 32/8 (Rivals). From your seat, is Kyle Flood on track or is he falling short in recruiting?
Bud Elliott: I think he's doing a good job. Rutgers is unfortunately in the division with the heavies of the league, so I don't think Flood (or Nick Saban or Jimbo Fisher, for that matter) can square Rutgers' talent level with the top of the East, but he's certainly at a level where Rutgers should consistently be able to make bowl games and not automatically be in the cellar.
OTB: People keep pointing out that Flood and his staff seem to uncover "diamonds in the rough", the "under the radar kids", early on. To me that says they're scouting well. To others it says they can't get the elite player. What's your take?
BE: Some of both. Rutgers is not going to be in the mix for elite players very often, so Flood and his staff have to focus on finding some three-stars who perhaps should have been rated higher, or two-stars who are in truth more of a three-star level.
On NJ kids going elsewhere
OTB: Similar avenue: how big an issue is it for Rutgers that they have missed out on the high profile NJ kid? People groaned about losing out on Jarret Guarantano, yet Anthony Russo looks like he could become very good.
BE: It's an issue due to the recruiting hype that landing Guarantano would have brought, but Russo is a heck of a backup plan to have hit.
OTB: You tweeted the other day that kids who are "projects", those that are not immediate impact players, might do better passing on the high-end schools, like Ohio State or Alabama. Rutgers has sent a number of kids to the NFL despite not being in that category. Paradox? Or is the program just getting good players who can be developed? Or something else?
The school that gives you the best chance to succeed might not be the one that sends the most guys to the league or that wins most titles.— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) July 14, 2015
BE: One of the perils of twitter is the 140-character limit. But I do believe that kids who need several years to develop are making mistakes by choosing schools at the very top of college football, because those schools are likely to recruit over them and land a player in a subsequent cycle who is going to be better, earlier. What then? Will an elite program stick with the project player? Or is he going to have to transfer? At a school like Rutgers or similar, the player is probably going to find more patience and focus from the coaching staff over the course of his career.
At some schools, if you are not starter-quality by your second spring, they are moving on. Have to consider your own development timeline.— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) July 14, 2015
The lure of the big name and the NFL
OTB: You had a Twitter conversation the other day regarding college football as a free minor league for the NFL. And the education piece seems to hinder the football process. Would you expand on that?
BE: Other sports, like baseball and hockey have to pay to develop their players via minor leagues. In football, there are no true minor leagues because the players develop in college -- for which the league doesn't pay a dime. I don't know that the education part hinders the development process that much, after all you can only work on football so much, but it does hurt some kids who really don't belong at a college academically. They either cannot get in or cannot last, and thus this artificial barrier to entry that the system imposes ends up really hurting them.
OTB: Prestige....the big name. Again from a tweet: Sometimes I interview kids and think they are picking a school just because it is their most prestigious/successful offer. How common is that, and is that hurting schools like Rutgers? Do you see it changing for the Knights with entry to the Big Ten?
Sometimes I interview kids and think they are picking a school just because it is their most prestigious/successful offer.— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) July 14, 2015
BE: I think it is pretty common. It's not always a bad thing, because typically the programs with the most prestige do offer the most. I was more focusing on the need to find the right fit. I think the move to the Big Ten will help Rutgers in that its prestige level has increased.
We'd like to thank Bud Elliott for his time and thoughts. His football recruiting analyses can be found here.