After an expected lull in recruiting after last month's National Signing Day, Rutgers' football recruiting seems to be slowly but surely on the upswing as the spring season is officially upon us. Last week, the 2016 class got a late boost when it added JUCO transfer cornerback Kobe Marfo Jr. Just yesterday, the program added the second member of the 2017 class, athlete Bryce Watts.
Chris Ash and his staff will be looking to get more players to join Watts and Naijee Jones in the 2017 class over the next few weeks. Several recruits will be taking in practices and, of course, the grandest exhibition of them all, the spring game. Here's a look at some of the names who have been on campus or have heard from the coaching staff in the last few days.
OLB Tyshon Fogg (Towson, MD)
Fogg is the latest visitor, as he is on campus today for an unofficial visit.
About to go to Rutgers today ‼️ #RU— Shon (@shonisland9) March 28, 2016
It would be a huge coup to pluck Fogg out of enemy territory, but we shouldn't expect a decision from the Maryland native anytime soon. He is a four-star recruit and the fifth-ranked recruit in the Old Line State, and has already received 20 offers according to 247Sports.
At 6-2, 216, Fogg already has great size, and could make an immediate impact at the next level. His film shows that he has a knack for overpowering blockers in his pursuit of a ball carrier, and he also has a knack for knocking the ball loose with a hard-hitting tackle. With Rutgers in the process of rebuilding its linebacker corps after three starters left last year, Ash is surely licking his chops at the potential of adding Fogg to a growing position group.
Rutgers will have their work cut out for them to bring Fogg to the banks, as he already holds offers from his home-state school and early favorite Maryland, as well as powerhouses like Clemson, Iowa, Michigan State, North Carolina, Stanford, and others. Alabama, Ohio State, and Penn State have also been sniffing around Fogg.
OT Ben Petrula (Jersey City, NJ)
A commitment from Petrula would help fill a huge hole for Rutgers in 2017. The offensive line took a hit after last season as LT Keith Lumpkin graduated and starters Chris Muller, Derrick Nelson, and J.J. Denman are all entering their final seasons with the program.
Petrula is a 6-6, 295 giant who has the makings of someone that could hold his own on the Scarlet Knights offensive line for four seasons. A four-star recruit according to 247Sports, the St. Peter's Prep product is not just one of the best recruits in New Jersey (ranked No. 5), but also a top-ten offensive lineman in the nation. According to NJ.com, Petrula visited campus on Thursday.
While the big man has his fair share of suitors, working in Rutgers' favor was their early interest in him, as Petrula was on the banks for last year's spring game. Last October, Rutgers offered Petrula, becoming the second program to do so behind Temple. While Petrula was originally pursued by the Flood staff, it's no surprise Ash has continued the pursuit.
In addition to Rutgers and Temple, Petrula also holds offers from North Carolina, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Virginia, and Boston College, who, if 247's Crystal Ball is any indication, are the early leaders for Petrula's services.
S Marquis Waters (Delray Beach, FL)
Unlike the rest of the prospects in this post, Waters doesn't currently have a visit to Rutgers set up, but he recently received an offer from Ash and his staff.
Blessed to receive my 10th offer from Rutgers University... pic.twitter.com/ZYRqnGZP9j— MrChangeofPossession (@mdwaters2139) March 26, 2016
Similar to Petrula, Waters would fill a big hole for Rutgers if he commits and plays as a freshman in 2017. After next season, Rutgers will bid farewell to safeties Anthony Cioffi and Davon Jacobs. While the Scarlet Knights will still have Kiy Hester, Waters could conceivably still earn playing time in 2017.
A look at Waters' film shows he is a skilled zone defender who can hold his own in man coverage when tasked with it. He also has good hands and solid awareness that allows him to break up passes or even snatch them away from the intended receiver. His impressive speed is a plus, too.
Ash would surely love to re-establish the Florida-to-New Jersey pipeline that was established under the last regime, and bringing aboard Waters would be a great start. In order to do so, Rutgers has to beat out Wisconsin, West Virginia, Temple, Duke, Iowa State, and others for the services of the self-proclaimed Mr. Change of Possession.
QB Kenny Pickett (Oakhurst, NJ)
When viewing Pickett's 247Sports profile, it might be a little surprising to see Rutgers pursuing him. He is listed as a pro-style quarterback, and the Drew Mehringer offense seems more structured for a dual-threat quarterback, like incoming freshman Tylin Oden.
In truth, Pickett is probably best classified as a signal caller somewhere between pro-style and dual-threat. He primarily operates in the pocket, but if a play breaks down or his offensive line lets a defender by, Pickett is not afraid to move around and take off. This type of play makes a lot of sense when looking at his junior year stats: 113-of-176 passes with 1,796 yards and 19 touchdowns through the air, while adding 336 yards and five scores on the ground.
You can never have too much depth at the most important position, and after viewing his film I'm intrigued by the idea of Pickett working in the Mehringer power-spread offense. In addition to his ability to scramble, Pickett demonstrates good decision-making and an arm that is both powerful and precise. His addition would provide another boost to a QB depth chart that should consist of Oden, Hayden Rettig, Chris Laviano, and Gio Rescigno in 2017. Pickett visited campus on Saturday.
Rutgers today ⚔ ⚪️⚫️— Kenny Pickett (@kennypickett10) March 26, 2016
Pickett has received interest from over 20 schools, and currently holds offers from UConn, Temple, Toledo, Buffalo, Monmouth, and Texas State.
QB Tommy DeVito (Ramsey, NJ)
Like Pickett, DeVito is another quarterback who primarily works out of the pocket, but can move around if need be. Unlike Pickett, however, DeVito already has a Rutgers offer in hand.
Just received a scholarship offer from Rutgers University! ⚔ pic.twitter.com/e0FJGFexlT— Tommy DeVito (@tommydevito007) March 4, 2016
The recruitment of DeVito likely extends beyond the signal caller himself, as he plays for one of New Jersey's powerhouse high school programs, Don Bosco Prep. Of course, in January 2011 a Don Bosco quarterback by the name of Gary Nova committed to Rutgers. In the following months, he was joined by wide receiver Leonte Carroo and defensive tackle Darius Hamilton. While DeVito has a lot of upside as a player, establishing a pipeline with Don Bosco could prove just as valuable.
DeVito is a strong pocket passer with a strong arm and reliable accuracy who can scramble for a gain if need be. While he doesn't have the same laser arm Pickett possesses, DeVito would hardly be a consolation prize if the Ramsey native commits to the Scarlet Knights.
DeVito took his first visit to Rutgers in early March and received a scholarship offer on the same day. He visited campus on Saturday. DeVito has also received offers from Maryland, Syracuse, Boston College, Toledo, and others.
With the spring football season upon us, don't be surprised if Rutgers lands a commitment or two over the coming weeks. Who would you be most excited about coming to the banks? Sound off in the comments below!