The 2017 Rutgers recruiting class as whole as most experts and fans have referenced is by consensus, the best since the class of 2012. Some of that is backed up by sheer gut feeling while others have put a little data behind it. Let’s dig into some of the components since our friends at NJ Advanced Media already did their own rankings of the recent classes. We’ll look at three major areas: by coach, top individuals, and by position group. Some of this is a piggyback off our article of why to be excited for this class.
Chris Ash has only had two classes which of course this was the better. The 2017 class received the following marks, Scout: 45st, Rivals: 43rd, 247: 42nd.
Kyle Flood’s best class was the 2012 group even though you could say that belonged more to Schiano since the Flood was the head man for only about a week before signing day. 247 gave it a ranking of 24th led by Darius Hamilton, Chris Muller, JJ Denman, Steve Longa, and Leonte Carroo. If you discard that, Flood’s next best was 50th in 2013 led by Nadir Barnwell, ouch.
Greg Schiano was a good recruiter because he regularly developed more NFL talent than his college rankings would indicate. He found guys he could develop. His 2007 class has the highest ranking by 247sports at 28th led by Anthony Davis, but 2011 was in a close second at 30th even though it came off a losing season. A few other classes ended up in the 30s.
So as it stands today Schiano has the edge and Ash has shown so far he is superior to Flood.
Individual top players:
Much has been made about Rutgers finally breaking a slump in landing any of New Jersey’s top players which they did with Micah Clark, the first time they signed the state’s top prospect since the Knights did it back to back in 2011 with Savon Huggins and 2012 with Hamilton. Clark checks in as the 5th best RU recruit since 2000 as per 247 sports all time ranking (aka since 2000). (He shows as 6th but Nate Robinson is listed twice). Like we did with the Knights in the Pros as recruits, we will include individual rankings based on that.
In addition, Bo Melton was rated by 247 sports as 15th best, even though if you look closely you notice Michigan transfer and former Cedar Creek teammate Ahmir Mitchell is considered 8th. Both will be eligible this season who with a returning Janarion Grant (61st) will likely prove to be a significant upgrade over 2016. The best dynamic duo from a single class is Davis and Manny Abreu in 2007.
The only other consensus four star recruit in the 2017 class is Tyshon Fogg who checks in at number 26. For reference the best ranked Big 3 from a single class on this list is either 2011 (Huggins, Miles Shuler, and Marquise Wright) or 2012 (Hamilton, Carroo, Muller). We can easily settle that tie with the play on the field pointing squarely toward the 2012ers. It drops off after that for the ‘17 class if you look at the top 4 or 5 with Lewis squared up next (Eddie at 68th and Johnathan at 75th).
By Position group (#10strong):
QB: Todderick Hunt got the ball rolling with his grade of RU quarterback recruiting as a B-. Johnathan Lewis has the fan base buzzing more than any QB since Gary Nova? He falls behind many less successful quarterbacks on this list though. Tom Savage leads the way in 14th and then D.C. Jefferson at 55th, Laviano 65th, Dare 67th, Oden 74th, and interestingly Nova down at 93rd.
RB: This was interesting because RU had ZERO running back commits 48 hours before signing day. The late splash of Elijah Barnwell (237th) and Raheem Blackshear (235th) are blown away by many other backs in expectations, Huggins (3rd) , D-Antwan Williams (30th), and Kordell Young (42nd) lead the way, so perhaps running back rankings are the least accurate of any position. Robert Martin (46), Trey Sneed (50), and Josh Hicks (56) are pretty high though.
WR: Melton already mentioned but after that this gets super complicated because so many guys are listed as athletes or could go either way between receiver or defensive back. Think Sanu listed as a safety while Marcus Cooper was a wide receiver. The best two man listing at pure wide receiver is 2012 Ian Thomas (47) and Ruhann Peele (41) both of which ended up on defense. Eddie Lewis at 68th with Melton is up there. We do plan to specifically break down the 2017 wide receiver recruits including guys who may end up there or at another position like Tim Barrow (102), Shameen Jones (117), Everett Wormley (178), Blackshear, and the Hayek brothers. Then we can dig into this one further.
TE: Travis Vokolek checks in at 240th. Myles Nash is 47 as an athlete who now will be playing tight end. Jerome Washington would be 27th on this list had he committed to RU out of high school. The aforementioned D.C. Jefferson was recruited as a QB at 55 but played tight end on the banks switching positions like many others. The highest rated player recruited specifically at tight end is Paul Carrezola at number 94. Notable Tyler Kroft at 146 and Clark Harris (unranked) go to show that tight end rankings are likely way off base.
OL: Clark (6th), Vretman (87th), Bowles (126th) and Beaty (185th) as a unit are in decent standing, but this is complicated to compare by some players switching sides of the ball like 128th Kamaal Seymour. The edge here anecdotally has to be 2012 which the numbers seem to indicate: Muller 11, Denman 20, Brodie 28, Brandon Arciadacono 128, and Nelson 201. Oddly next would be 2007 which once Davis left early was the worst offensive line in Knights history as Redshirt Juniors /True Seniors: Davis - 4, Richard Muldrow - 95, Caleb Ruch - 103, Desmond Stapleton - 105. Let’s hope the 10th anniversary of that sack allowing history (61 of them) does not repeat itself in 2020. We don’t want the next Tom Savage leaving town.
DL: Pass, well at defensive tackle anyway. Duggan (212th) or Bordner (108th) could wind up there but Tverdov (120th) and Mason (193rd) look like ends. Tverdov’s older brother Peter was unranked though he had a productive career wherever the team needed him on the defensive line. The best DT duo was Wright and Al Page in 2011, but we already knew this class is lacking at defensive tackle after only signing one last year as well, Julius Turner (not in the top 250). For defensive ends it is 2012 again with Hamilton (2nd) and Pinnix-Odrick (38th), even higher if you throw in Lambert (18th) who was recruited as a linebacker but ended up at defensive end.
LB: This is exciting. Fogg (26th), Fatukasi (98th), and Onyechi (188th) all profile as linebackers, with Simmons (204th) at least one other possibility. This is another position where guys recruited as athletes or safeties could move, but we will give it a whirl. The best duo (and trio) of guys officially linebacker is 2007 with Abreu (7th), Joe Lefeged (54th), and Jourdan Brooks (78th). Since RU had so much depth at linebacker at that time, Abreu played defensive end, Lefeged safety, and Brooks running back. Also of note the 2014 class featured Justin Nelson (45th) and Sidney Gopre (52nd) who never made it to campus, one reason the 2016 had so little experience at that position.
CB: Barrow (102) and Naijee Jones (194) currently show up here, though a current guy listed at wideout could join them. The best cornerback duo in recent RU recruiting history is by far Logan Ryan (40th) and Abdul Smith (69th) of the 2009 class, but we know which of them ended up with the better career.
S: Tyler Hayek (239th) and Eddie Lopez (135th) for reference in this class even though a guy like Simmons could join them. Historically the best duo is 2010 with Lorenzo Waters (73rd) and Jeremy Deering (59th). Deering is the highest individually even though I think that listing him at safety might have been after the fact since he played QB, RB, and WR at Rutgers so I’m shocked he is not listed as an athlete.
ATH: Ahmir Mitchell and Nadir Barnwell previously mentioned are the highest ranking guys classified as athletes in recent memory. Syheim Simmons who has been all over this article is the only one 247 considers ATH at number 204.