After a 2-6 start to the season, there has been a growing concern among the Rutgers fan base that decommitments from the 2017 recruiting class would soon follow. The first shoe dropped this evening, as Salem running back and 3-star recruit Jonathan Taylor announced this evening that he was no longer committed to Rutgers.
Per his Twitter account, three-star RB Jonathan Taylor has decommitted from Rutgers. Visited #Wisconsin officially earlier this month. pic.twitter.com/EwXqnnYSEV— Jon McNamara (@McNamaraRivals) October 30, 2016
It is not surprising that Taylor was the first to leave the 2017 recruiting class, as he has been pursued heavily by Wisconsin and recently visited their program. He removed any mention of Rutgers on his twitter profile since he returned from his visit of the Big Ten West foe.
The other running back Rutgers has committed in the class of 2017 is fellow 3-star Johnathan Lovett from Marlton, New Jersey. He visited Penn State last weekend for their big upset of #2 Ohio State and picked up an offer from the Nittany Lions soon after. As of now, Lovett remains committed to Rutgers. However, Penn State has had recent success in flipping commits of the program, most notably running back Saquon Barkley, who has emerged as the best at his position in the Big Ten.
Taylor and Lovett have been the only two recruits in the 2017 class that have appeared to be wavering so far. Two 4-star recruits and leaders of the class, Micah Clarke and Bo Melton, have been vocal in their allegiance to Rutgers and voiced confidence that the majority of the class will end up on the banks. Head Coach Chris Ash seems to have done a solid job in telling recruits that depth is thin and the opportunity for them to contribute right away is strong.
One player who could step in as early as next season is 3-star quarterback Johnathan Lewis, who has had a tremendous senior season starring for St. Peters. He looked the part today on his future home field, as St. Peters blew out Lincoln 47-6 playing at Rutgers this afternoon. He did leave the game with an injury, but his coach said he was held out the rest of the game as a precaution.
There was good news for the program today, as three members of the 2017 class were invited to the Blue-Grey All-American Game. They were Owen Bowles, Mike Tverdov, and Bryce Watts.
Here is a full listing of the current Rutgers recruiting class from 247 Sports, which does still include Taylor. 247 Sports ranks the class 27th in the country and 7th in the Big Ten before Taylor decommitted. It is certainly a loss for the program, but the majority of the class seems solid for now. Of course, a win next Saturday at home against Indiana would certainly go a long way in easing growing concern among Rutgers fans. Also, keeping Lovett committed to the program is even more important now, as he is currently the only running back in the recruiting class. There are a little more than three months until national signing day.