We're entering the home stretch of the 2016 recruiting season, with National Signing Day looming next Wednesday. Rutgers now has 15 recruits committed to the current class after adding Tennessee quarterback Tylin Oden and New Jersey linebacker Tyreek Williams on Wednesday night.
Today begins the final weekend of official visits before NSD. Official visits are key when it comes to swaying uncommitted recruits, flipping recruits who have already committed to another program, and strengthening the commitment of recruits that have already pledged to the program. Rutgers will be looking to cater to all three types of recruits this weekend. Here's a look at the players scheduled to be on campus for the key recruiting weekend.
These players are essentially free agents - they have either not committed anywhere, or committed to a program but decided against staying and re-opened their commitment. Either way, they currently do not have a team for 2016, and Rutgers will have the final opportunity to bring them in for an official visit and sway them.
ATH Dacoven Bailey (Pilot Point, TX)
To this point, Bailey has never pledged to a program, and his weekend trip to Rutgers appears to be his first official visit. The 6-0, 190-pound athlete has experience playing all over the field. His senior film shows him lining up at wide receiver, running back, safety and even in the Wildcat formation. He hasn't been a highly recruited prospect (his only other offers have come from Central Oklahoma and Tarleton State), but clearly Rutgers has taken a liking to him. He'd make for an interesting gadget player in offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer's spread offense. At this point it would be surprising if Bailey doesn't end up on the banks.
OT Mike Lonsdorf (Somerville, NJ)
Lonsdorf, a three-star recruit according to 247, committed to UConn last December, but his tenure with the Huskies didn't last long. Other teams began to show interest in the 6-7, 270-pound prospect, including Rutgers, and Lonsdorf decommitted on Monday. While he has offers from Purdue, Army, and a few other schools, he'll be visiting Rutgers this weekend, and there's a good chance he commits while on his OV.
C Sam Howson (Sparta, NJ)
Howson has long been on the Scarlet Knights' radar, attending last year's Rutgers Big Man Academy and last October's game against Michigan State. However, it wasn't until recently that the program's interest in Howson really ramped up, as Rutgers just offered him on Wednesday. He also holds offers from Monmouth, Wagner and Maine, making Rutgers easily the biggest school to offer him. His OV this weekend could go a long way in swaying the 6-4, 280-pounder.
RB Ross Taylor-Douglas (University of Michigan)
Taylor-Douglas is an interesting case, as he is moving on from Michigan as a graduate transfer. A four-star defensive back in high school, he converted to running back, then wide receiver, then back to running back at Michigan. He had a limited role during his Wolverines career - after redshirting his freshman year, he appeared in 10 games on special teams in 2014 and then five games as a reserve running back last year. He actually made an appearance against Rutgers in last season's meeting in Ann Arbor, gaining eight yards on two carries. Rutgers will be RTD's first and likely only visit before NSD, so there's a good chance he joins the Scarlet Knights. Wherever he goes, he will be eligible to play immediately and has two years of eligibility remaining.
Rutgers this weekend— Ross Douglas (@DougieXFresh29_) January 27, 2016
The Potential Flips
These recruits are currently committed to other programs, but are taking official visits to Rutgers this weekend. During the visit, Rutgers will try and swing them to join Chris Ash and his staff.
DE Quayshon Alexander (Wayne, NJ)
Alexander, a four-star recruit, would be the gem of Rutgers' recruiting class if he flips from Nebraska. The Scarlet Knights were one of the first teams to express interest in the 6-3, 230-pound pass rusher. He first visited Rutgers for the Scarlet Knights' first Big Ten game against Penn State in September 2014. While that game didn't go how Rutgers wanted, Alexander was back in attendance for the team's big win against Michigan the following month. He returned for another unofficial visit in February 2015, and again last April. He committed to Nebraska last June, but has continued to take visits, checking out Michigan in October, Pitt in December, and Indiana earlier this month. Now, he is taking his final OV to Rutgers. Hopefully Ash can keep the seventh-ranked prospect in New Jersey in the Garden State.
Rutgers official visit starts now ⚪️ #Chopnation— Quayshon Alexander (@KinG_QuaY_23) January 29, 2016
ATH Tyree Rodgers (Cherry Hill, NJ)
Rodgers is currently committed to Old Dominion, but many think a flip to Rutgers is imminent. Like Bailey, Rodgers is a two-way player. While he also plays in the defensive backfield, he interestingly plays quarterback on offense for Camden Catholic. With plenty of quarterbacks on the roster, including recent commit Oden, Rutgers is probably more interested in utilizing Rodgers as a wild card gadget player in the new offense. He has good legs and cutting ability, and could make an impact as a slot receiver. Rutgers offered Rodgers on Sunday, and were soon followed by Virginia Tech, who brought Rodgers in for an official visit and offered him. Still, being his last OV is a huge advantage for Rutgers.
Just picked up an offer from Rutgers ⚪️ pic.twitter.com/gcjdMAWEo2— 2️⃣ (@_trodgers2) January 25, 2016
CB Ke'Shan Pennamon (Jacksonville, FL)
Rutgers' interest in Pennamon dates back to the Flood Era, when they offered the three-star prospect on June 2 of last year. A few months later, Pennamon took an official visit to Wisconsin, and committed to the Badgers on September 27. He hasn't shown much doubt in his decision, not so much as taking an official visit elsewhere until this weekend. It'd be quite a coup for Ash to steal Pennamon away from the Badgers just before NSD.
The rest of Rutgers' visitors are members of the 2016 recruiting class that have already committed to the Scarlet Knights. For some, it will be their first time visiting their new home for the next few years. For others, they're coming back to get one last taste of Rutgers before making their decision official on Wednesday. Either way, Ash and his staff will be working hard to keep them on board and avoid any last minute flips. You can read my full takes on most of them right here.
QB Tylin Oden (Columbia, TN)
Oden committed on Wednesday night, putting a swift end to Rutgers' QB concerns after Anthony Russo flipped to Temple. He has the height (6-5) and legs to excel as a dual-threat quarterback, even if he doesn't make a huge impact as a freshman. Oden felt confident enough in his decision to flip from Louisville to Rutgers that he made his commitment before even visiting Rutgers for an OV. Now, he will get a chance to get to know the banks a little better before arriving for summer camp.
WR Taysir Mack (Brooklyn, NY)
Mack and teammate Ahmed Bah committed to Rutgers together back in June. While Bah would decommit in December, Mack has stayed loyal to his commitment and, barring something unforeseen, should make it official on Wednesday.
WR Isaiah Wright (West Hartford, CT)
Wright committed to Rutgers last July, and to this point he has not wavered. However, Temple made a push for the wideout following Kyle Flood's dismissal, and the Owls brought Wright in for an official visit last month. Chris Ash will be fighting hard to keep Wright away from Temple, made even more difficult by the fact E.J. Barthel, Rutgers' director of recruiting under Flood, is now with Temple.
OT Elijah Johnson (Hyattsville, MD)
Johnson has stayed true to the Scarlet Knights since committing last June, but Temple and Boston College are making a late push for 6-6, 317-pound giant. Two weeks ago, he took an OV to the Owls, and last week he visited the Eagles. Rutgers will have to work hard to keep Johnson from flipping to one of the birds.
OLB Tyreek Williams (Sicklerville, NJ)
Williams just committed Wednesday, and will be making his first trip to the banks since flipping from Buffalo. It would be shocking to see Williams flip again before NSD.
OLB Rashawn Battle (Hawley, PA)
Battle has been committed to Rutgers since last June, and while he has has offers from several other Power Five schools in the northeast, it's a good bet that he will sign with Rutgers on Wednesday.
CB Damon Hayes (Upper Marlboro, MD)
Like several of his fellow commits, Hayes has been courted by a number of teams following the firing of Flood. Despite going on official visits to Boston College and Wake Forest, Hayes seems likely to stick with the Scarlet Knights.
Are you ready for National Signing Day? Do you think Rutgers can bring in any new commits this weekend? Can they keep their own from flipping? Sound off in the comments below.