While the new coaching staff has been busy landing commitments from the top quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and offensive lineman in the class of 2017 from New Jersey, the Big Ten announced that a recent nemesis in recruiting the home state of Rutgers will matchup in a primetime game this fall.
Michigan poached the garden state for the best players in the state during the 2016 recruiting cycle. Jim Harbaugh landed the top recruit in the country, Rashan Gary, among others that signed with the Wolverines back in February. He and former Paramus Catholic head coach and now Michigan's linebackers and special teams coach, Chris Partridge, continue the full court press for 2017 prospects.
New Rutgers head coach Chris Ash started the 2017 recruiting cycle with a clean slate and has immediately backed up his staff's mantra of "fencing the garden". Just this past weekend, St. Peter's Prep quarterback Johnathan Lewis and Salem High School's Jonathan Taylor committed to Ash on back to back days. Two weeks ago, Cedar Creek's Bo Melton committed, starting the domino effect of the top players in New Jersey pledging to stay home and play at Rutgers. Just days later, top offensive lineman Micah Clark from St. John Vianney committed along with his step brother Jamaal Beaty, a legitimate prospect in his own right.
The recruiting dynamic between the two schools is sure to make this primetime matchup especially appealing, and undoubtedly catch the attention of many garden state recruits. Michigan will surely continue to recruit players that have committed to Rutgers, making this game huge for multiple reasons. It is a natural fit for the annual blackout game, as it was during the 2014 season. There is no word yet on if that will be the case for this season.
Of course, Rutgers won the first ever matchup against Michigan in 2014 in primetime at High Point Solutions Stadium. Former Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova led the Scarlet Knights to victory with 3 touchdown passes and 404 yards passing.
Rutgers has a difficult start to the 2016 season, playing at Washington, at Ohio State and hosting Iowa all before the primetime game against Michigan, which caps the first half of the season. The game is the first road test of the 2016 season for Michigan. For now, let's enjoy the hot start by Ash and his staff on the recruiting trail and hope they can continue to build on it. Here are video highlights of the 2014 victory over Michigan, the first Big Ten win in Rutgers history.