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Rutgers recruiting class of 2017: Individual first impressions

The SVP of my department always leaves us with “one thing” so here’s something for each commit.

Illinois v Rutgers
Ash and Lovie Smith will battle as crossover opponents three more times in this mini-cycle.
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

In his interview about the 2015 Rutgers recruiting class, former coach Kyle Flood indicated how important first impressions are. Jim Harbaugh believes the same and has used some unorthodox tactics as a head coach, especially at Michigan. Chris Ash might not be a Philadelphia 76er preacher in “trust the process”, but he has shown so far to be more of an even keel, grind through the long haul type guy. In the comments section I expect plenty of competitive banter on that along with Lewis & Clark, Lewis squared + Clark, and maybe even some Police Academy Jones references.

Whether you believe that first impressions are “everything” or not, here is a list of initial observations while turning on the film of Rutgers recruiting class of 2017. Andy Egan painted a more comprehensive picture in the superlatives.

Rutgers v Michigan
Flood and Captain Khaki both believe in first impressions.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

These kids as a whole seem competitive and to love football, Eddie “Tank” Lopez jumps out in that regard. I'm not sure how much of the body slamming ball carriers was for show, out of necessity, or for recruiters but hopefully it was because they love to play.

Speaking of a guy built like a tank, Jaohne Duggan will hopefully be Ramel Meekins 2.0, keeping the energy level up for the defense.

If not, Naijee Jones is relentless. The physical and emotional toll RU took in 2016 will benefit from his energy boost.

He and Owen Bowles have real desire and motors. They both may project as offensive linemen, but I’d pay to see a daily grappling match between Owen and Zach Venesky.

When Olakunle Fatukasi makes a decision to make a play has amazing 10 yard burst.

For sheer entertainment value, Raheem Blackshear can easily pinball through a defense so why not have him turn around and come back the other way to see if he can do it again like you could in original Tecmo Bowl?

Tim Barrow’s film I simply could not turn off. His QB was throwing 5 step drop, 50 yard bombs since they had no offensive line and Tim was just going and getting it. He has ridiculous acceleration first to second and second to third gear even though his top speed is not elite.

Shameen Jones has incredible cutback ability, a poor mans Janarion in that regard.

Eddie Lewis might have the best vision of anyone signed since Grant which I was surprised by. He is seeing the play as if he's up in the booth playing Madden or NCAA Football 2014 rather than eye level with defenders.

Mike Tverdov always seems to have an arm free even in photos ...

Tyshon Fogg reminds me of Tyronne Stowe. It feels inevitable before the snap that he will just casually make the tackle around the line of scrimmage, like it’s a foregone conclusion.

Syheim Simmons has incredible feet on both sides of the ball.

Johnathan Lewis sure has a lot of admirers. Optimistic fans think he has Hayden Rettig’s arm and Gio’s Madden “trucking” rating.

J. Lewis can truck, bu of any recruit or player in New Jersey high school football in 2016, who would you make you cringe more when meeting him at the line of scrimmage than Brendan De Vera on a play to decide a game?

Elijah Barnwell is the one player who may have the strongest case for an alternative. His running style does not remind me of his brother at all, even though both were extremely productive.

Speaking of the “bigger brother”, Tyler Hayek galloping around the field draws immediate thoughts of Andrew Turzilli, especially when he is wearing #19.

When you have two brothers close in age, twins or not, the smaller one speaking from experience has to be faster and tougher just to compete. Looking at the size, Hunter Hayek you may think is another John Tsimis, but he pushes the envelope more.

Speaking of Tsimis, Everett Wormley is a smooth operator. His route running is the best I have seen in an RU recruit since John or it just looks like it because he is so quiet in his movements.

That’s not to say Bo Melton runs bad routes, he seems to be the whole package. Not sure what his weaknesses are, so hopefully we find that out after a solid college career on the banks ends.

On the subject of productivity, Travis Vokolek is the next in a long line of Rutgers tight ends who will be if used correctly.

Tijaun Mason, putting on muscle could make him a great player at RU, if he avoids the Tillet dining hall. Then again looks like they may have redone it?

Chris was right when he referred to C.J. Onyechi as a special teams ace, but number 74? Shouldn’t that be a left tackle like Keith Lumkpin?


Another Flood favorite was about how much better the team is when wide receivers contribute on special teams. He may be gone, but regardless, Damon Mitchell, welcome to the kickoff team!

I don’t think he had in mind situational wide receiver, Ryan Anderson, who also happens to be an All-American punter. If Michael Cintron used up all the punts he had in his leg in 2016, he has some relief at minimum.

Cole Murphy will have a lot more people in the Wide Receiver room with him when the freshmen show up, but don’t be surprised if it’s he and not Grant running the Wild Knight in 2017.

Scholarship early enrollees:

Brendon Bordner’s 40+ offers was no fluke, he shows potential. Being body slammed by him in the backfield looks a little more painful than Tank Lopez mentioned above.

Good luck with Sam Vretman coming straight at you in a confined area. As a former defensive lineman and hockey player, I feel better about my chances on skates, even though Sam is probably a better skater than me.

Speaking of multi-sport, Micah Clark may not be all Anthony Davis (football), but maybe some of him with a sprinkle of the athleticism of Anthony Davis (basketball)?

My father who has coached multiple High School sports for 30 years says the key to success is continuously getting better and not hitting a plateau until after you have neared the end of college. Jamal Beaty appears on that path.

Some preferred walk ons (they can decide to sign a LOI elsewhere and the whole list isn’t published):

Zach Miseo that hype a few years ago, please use it as a chip on your large shoulders.

Jack Scott, what injury?

Isiah Byrd didn’t have to wear number 6 for people to be reminded of Desmon Peoples.

Nyhsere Woodson, if the last name doesn’t mean “fast” and “good at football” already, try tackling him.

Justin Davidovicz, please do not sign a LOI elsewhere!