Our own Dave White wrote yesterday that 2018 recruit Artur Sitkowksi has flipped his commitment from the University of Miami to Rutgers. For many, it may have been a brief headline. Perhaps the average fan saw it and possibly said, “Oh, that’s nice,” or even, “Wow, that’s great!”
It always feels good when a recruit flips to your school. Just a week or so ago, I wrote about how Raheem Blackshear flipped to Rutgers from Michigan State on National Signing Day in 2017. We have seen that happen in reverse, most notably in the Class of 2014, when the bottom dropped out of the recruiting class after all of the scandals and a poor 2013 season combined to see recruits slip away, including 4-star recruit Saeed Blacknall. At that time, Rutgers ranking in the Big Ten recruiting wars went from 3rd to 11th.
But realize, Sitkowski’s arrival at Rutgers is a big deal. A VERY big deal. Here’s why...
Make no mistake about it, Sitkowski is a big-time recruit. He is ranked highly by everyone. As an example, ESPN’s ranking of the top 300 players in the country has placed him at ninth in the country at his position, and #130 overall for the recruiting class. His composite position ranking nationally is 11.
Miami was relatively surprised by this situation. Here’s a video by Mark Rogers TV where he interviewed a Miami recruiting expert about this situation. He explained well why Miami had planned to stick with Sitkowski, even though he had a couple of tough outings this season at IMG.
As even casual fans know, a highly rated recruit brings can start a trend. Think back to last year, Micah Clark and Bo Melton’s commitments and willingness to stick by Rutgers even when the 2016 season went into a tailspin was certainly a reason other recruits stuck around and we did not have a repeat of the 2014 recruiting class debacle I mentioned above.
247 Sports put out a list of Rutgers All-Time Recruits and Sitkowski is now listed at #7 all-time. That is pretty heady company, with Darius Hamilton at #2, former 49er Anthony Davis at #5, and current Houston Texan Tom Savage and current Scarlet Knight Micah Clark sitting behind Sitkowski at numbers 8 and 9, respectively. This will let you know where he sits in the hierarchy of Rutgers recruits. In fact, Leonte Caroo, one of Rutgers’ most admired and respected players of all time, is ranked four spots below Sitkowski, at 11.
However, even with all this, there is a question mark about Artur’s performance. He transferred to IMG academy from Old Bridge HS this season to give him more experience against top-flight opposition, and he faced some trouble. After a poor performance against Miami Central (#3 in Florida) in late September, he was benched in the second quarter. He had a 5-13 for 10 yards and two INT performance at that point. IMG coach Kevin Wright said he took Sitkowski out due to a deep shoulder bruise. In the two games he played since that game, however, he was relatively ineffective, throwing for 19 yards in one, and running for a total of 3 yards in the other.
Artur Sitkowski planned to enroll early at Miami, and will now probably enroll early at Rutgers as well. Even if he does not enroll early, he will probably sign on the dotted line and be locked in as early as December 20-22. Those are the dates of the first-ever early signing period for college football. A player with that kind of ranking in place will help keep the remainder of the class in place for National Signing Day in February as well.
So why hasn’t the average fan heard about Arthur Sitkowski? He was certainly on Rutgers’ radar. In fact, almost a year ago, our own Mike Voza listed Artur as an item on his “Christmas Wish List” as a support to Johnathan Lewis. Merry Christmas, Mike, even though it is almost a year late!
Sitkowski was a pretty early commit for Miami, pledging to them last February. Therefore, as the recruiting battles heated up this spring and summer, he wasn’t mentioned, as he was already off the board. Therefore, he did not enter the conversations of who would or would not commit to play at Rutgers in 2018.
Finally, another measure of how impactful Artur Sitkowski’s recruitment has already been, you can look at the football recruiting rankings by team. As an example, Rutgers has shot up the 247 Sports ranking boards, going from 58 to 41 with just his placement on the list for the coming year. In the Big Ten, his commitment has moved us from from 13th to 10th.
Here’s a video of Arthur this season, before his shoulder injury took him off the field. The narrator in this is national recruiting analyst Adam Gorney, who does a nice breakdown of his skill set.
If you’d like to see more, below is a video of his highlights when he was at Old Bridge HS, just down Route 18 from his soon-to-be new home at High Point Solutions Stadium.
I particularly like the message in Artur’s tweet where he says:
“In my heart I believe I cannot let the opportunity to play for my “Hometown School” slip past me. I believe in this program and I am announcing today my commitment to Rutgers University”
I wasn’t the only one who agreed with that. Some players on the team have reached out to Sitkowski as well, and you can tell that they feel the same way about playing at home for Rutgers. For example, safety K.J. Gray had this response to Artur’s tweeted commitment announcement:
Told you what it was bro, glad you coming home✊ https://t.co/EXDuGQCzIs— demon (@CampaignKJG_5) November 2, 2017
I am reminded of the tweet of a few years ago from former Rutgers and 49ers great Anthony Davis, who was very blunt about his take on New Jersey kids leaving to play out-of-state:
If you're from NJ and got a full ride to Rutgers to play ball and didn't go there I'm not trying to hear how "you put on for Jersey"..— Anthony N. Davis (@BamDavis_) August 31, 2014
We couldn’t agree with Anthony more, and we are glad to be able to say, “Welcome to the Banks, Artur!”