Winning big recruiting battles is fun. And it's not something Rutgers fans have had the opportunity to enjoy too much in recent years. But things changed quickly under new head coach Chris Ash. After landing some intriguing talents in the few weeks he had to recruit the 2016 class, Ash has shifted things into another gear for the 2017 class.
Rutgers already has 13 commits, including exciting four-star talents offensive tackle Micah Clark and wide receiver Bo Melton. Hardcore recruiting fans will tell you that there's nothing more exciting than the high of knowing a top talent has committed to play football at your school. And like junkies itching for their next fix, we crave more.
Well recruiting nuts, you may be in luck.
It doesn't appear a decision is imminent, but the tea leaves suggest the Scarlet Knights are in very good position for four-star Bridgeton receiver Markquese Bell.
Rutgers was one of the first programs in on Bell, becoming the second team to extend him an offer when they did so on June 20 of last year. Since then, the offers have come pouring in for the talented receiver, whose offer list currently contains 24 teams. But Rutgers' early faith in him and the Jersey connection have proven valuable for the Scarlet Knights, who have remained a top option for Bell throughout the process.
Bell was a regular on campus last year, taking three unofficial visits to the banks during the 2015 football season.
Not surprisingly, the overhaul of the coaching staff did not halt the Scarlet Knights' interest in Bell, who returned to Rutgers and met with Ash and his staff during February's Junior Day.
In late March, Bell announced his Top 10 on Twitter, which included Rutgers. In what one can only imagine is a good sign, Bell revealed he would be visiting campus again the very next day.
Bell is a great athlete and has the makings of someone who can become a game changer at the collegiate level. Which is why it's no surprise he holds offers from a number of big programs, including Penn State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Ole Miss, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Pitt, and, just like seemingly every New Jersey recruit, Michigan.
The Wolverines were also in on Bell early - in fact, they were the third team to offer him, right after Rutgers. 247Sports indicates that Michigan is heavily pursuing Bell, using Jersey turncoat Chris Partridge to try and sway him. And while all of that is very, very scary for Rutgers fans, 247 also has some good news.
According to the site's "Crystal Ball", Rutgers is viewed as a heavy favorite to receive Bell's commitment. 7-of-9 (78%) experts predict Bell will end up at Rutgers, with the other two seeing him picking Michigan. Even better, the most recent prediction (from Monday) has Bell at Rutgers - and it came from a Michigan blogger.
It's worth pointing out the Crystal Ball shouldn't be viewed as gospel, and since Bell hasn't revealed when he will make his decision, we could be waiting a while, and a lot could change. But the idea of Bell joining the 2017 class is pretty tantalizing.
Losing Leonte Carroo leaves Rutgers' receivers with some pretty big shoes to fill, but it shouldn't be too difficult to do so - at least in the short-term. Janarion Grant, Andre Patton, and Carlton Agudosi are locked in as the top three receivers for this upcoming year, but they're also all entering their final seasons with the program.
As for 2017 and beyond, the idea of pairing Bell up with the already committed Melton makes for a very intriguing pass-catching duo for the next four years.
Do you think Bell will end up at Rutgers? What could his commitment mean to the current team as well as the rest of the 2017 recruiting class? Sound off in the comments below.