Chris Ash and his staff have been working hard since the recruiting dead period ended a couple of weeks ago, and have been moving fast to strengthen Rutgers' recruiting class ahead of National Signing Day on February 3.
Unfortunately, that couldn't prevent them from losing out on one of the most important commits of this class, kicker Alex Barbir.
Barbir, a three-star recruit from Cumming, GA, flipped his commitment from Rutgers to Penn State this morning, as was originally reported by Jay Poole from 247Sports. Barbir originally committed to Rutgers last July, and was poised to take over as Rutgers' placekicker after Kyle Federico finished his Scarlet Knights career at the end of the 2015 season.
Losing Barbir always seemed like a possibility after Kyle Flood was fired. Flood's staff originally recruited him to Rutgers, and Barbir was outspoken in his support of Flood, penning a message backing Flood on behalf of the 2016 recruiting class following Flood's three-game suspension back in September.
As is expected following a coaching change, several recruits have decommitted following Flood's dismissal, but Barbir had stayed committed to this point. The new coaching staff continued to communicate with Barbir, visiting him in Georgia and bringing him in for an official visit over the weekend.
Penn State originally showed interest in Barbir when they brought him in for a camp last summer, but did not offer him, instead bringing aboard Quinn Nordin, the top-ranked kicker in the nation. But Nordin's commitment to the Nittany Lions began to waver, and he quietly decommitted from the program recently. Just like that, Penn State's interest in Barbir was reignited, and they offered him last Tuesday. Now, Rutgers is without a kicker in place for the 2016 season.
On the roster, the Scarlet Knights have just David Bonagura, Michael Cintron, and Kevin Daly, none of whom have any in-game experience. Poole also reports that Rutgers will now turn its attention to Hammonton kicker Jonathan Ryker as they look to replace Barbir.
As a senior, Ryker was named First-Team All-South Jersey and managed 20 touchbacks. A look at his film shows that Ryker has a fine leg capable of putting kickoffs through the end zone, solid accuracy and an ability to get the kick off even when facing pressure.
Ryker has received interest from a number of programs, including Rutgers, Ohio State, Temple, UCF, and Vanderbilt, but to this point has not received any known offers. Ryker made unofficial visits to Rutgers in November 2014 and April 2015, and named Rutgers his leader last May. But after attending a camp at Rutgers last June, the coaching staff offered Barbir instead. Now, it appears the Scarlet Knights' interest in Ryker has been rekindled.
No matter who handles field goals and kickoffs for Rutgers in 2016, it will be a new face. The kicking situation is worth keeping an eye on as the march towards National Signing Day continues.