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Chris Ash Details 2019 Recruiting Class At Signing Day Presser

Find out the head coach’s in-depth view of the newest members of Rutgers football

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

It was a busy day for the Rutgers football program, as they welcomed 17 new scholarship players as part of the early signing period for the 2019 class. After a tumultuous 1-11 season, it was fair to be skeptical that this recruiting class would be much of anything come signing day. To the coaching staff’s credit, in particular head coach Chris Ash, the class is comprised of some talented and intriguing prospects, as well as a former top recruit in Michigan Transfer Drew Singleton. While more recruits are needed to be added to this class during the regular signing period that begins in February, based on how the season ended, Rutgers did about as well as could be hoped on the first day of the early signing period on Wednesday. We dished our positional grades and a overall grade for how day one of the early signing period went here.

Ash held a press conference late Wednesday to discuss the class in detail and discuss the plan to fill out the remaining open spots available in the next few months. Here are some notable quotes from Ash, as well as additional insight into the program and recruiting process at Rutgers.

Notable Quotes

Coaching Staff’s Role In Securing Class

“Our coaching staff -- 1-11, it’s hard to hide. You can’t hide it. It is what it is. We’ve talked a lot about that. I think our coaching staff went and attacked recruiting. They have been attacking recruiting throughout the year, but they’ve built really, really strong relationships with individuals and coaches, and did a great job of talking about where we’re at and selling our vision for the future, and because of that, we were able to land some pretty good players today.”

Scholarship Count For 2019 Class & Plan Moving Forward

“When you talk about the class just overall itself, I am excited about the talent, but I am probably equally as character of the young men that signed that us today. We had a total of 24 scholarships that we could give. Nihym Anderson, who was an early enrollee earlier this year during the season, took one of those scholarships in this class, so we had 24 total. We signed 17 today. We expect to probably have maybe a couple more before the signing period is over here on Friday.”

“And then our goal was to have five or six left for the February signing period, and that’s really right where we’re at, so I feel like we hit our mark in terms of numbers, the quality and the character of the guys that we got today.”

“When you look at it, six of these guys will be mid-year enrollees. Last year we had 10 that enrolled early, and most of those 10 at least contributed in some capacity here this season, so to get six more that will do it this year will help us next fall.”

“Fourteen of the guys that signed, we had some sort of live eval on. I think that’s important in the recruiting process, whether it be a camp or a game. There were live evals on a lot of these guys, which helps us in our evaluation.”

Transfers Added

“Recruiting rankings, I know a lot of people talk about them, but they don’t account for transfers. Drew Singleton is a transfer that we’re very excited about, and then Cooper, the offensive lineman from San Diego, is another transfer that we’re really excited about as we move forward. Drew was a onetime former No. 1 player here in the state of New Jersey, and having him come back home to be a part of our program is really exciting.”

On Signing QB Cole Snyder

“Cole Snyder at quarterback, we’re really excited about Cole. He’s a guy that we got an eval on in the spring. He was on the camp circuit here in June. We got a chance to see him throw quite a bit, and then we watched his senior year, he had a tremendous senior year, over 2,000 yards passing, like 37 touchdowns here in his senior year, so was really productive. He’s a leader, he’s a winner, and he just is a football junkie, and we’re excited to have Cole.”

On Why Snyder Stood Out

“The live evaluation, and then you look at his senior film, I remember the first time Coach McNulty went to see him throw, it was a cold morning, I believe, and the kid walked out of the car, picked up the football and started to sling it as he was working out. He got a chance to see him work out and was -- he called and said, holy smokes, you should see this guy throw it. And then he came to our camp and did the same thing. We had a huge camp the first Friday I believe in June, June 1st. There were a lot of outstanding quarterbacks here, and Cole was one of the best at the camp by far. He might have been an inch or two shorter than some of the other ones, but the guy understands football. He’s got great mechanics. You watch his senior film, he’s been extremely well-coached, and does a lot of things that we ask our quarterbacks to do.”

Strengthening The Running Back Position

“Obviously the position that I think we’re most excited about is our running back position. The two guys that we signed in that position, they’re similar but they’re different. Kay’Ron Adams is a true running back. Aaron Young is a guy that can do multiple things. He can play running back, he can play slot. He’s going to be a returner, and we have been on him for a long, long time, and today he made a decision to join our program and really excited about it. Kay’Ron is a guy that we had a live eval on last summer during the camp circuit. Absolutely fell in love with him during that live eval. We watched him his junior year, looked at the weight, the speed and the strength that he’d put on from the end of his junior year to the camp circuit and then watched him here his senior year and we’re really excited about him. We think we got a steal with him. With both of those guys, Kay’Ron had over 1,700 yards rushing, Aaron had over 1,600 yards rushing, and those guys are definitely going to be impact players. So similar to Raheem and to Pacheco this last year, if these two guys can add impact as freshman like those two guys, they’re really going to help us out.”

Improving At Linebacker

“Defensively linebacker was a major, major area of need moving forward. We really loaded up on our linebackers here in this recruiting class. With what we’ve got coming back and what we’ve signed, we feel like it’s going to be one of the strongest positions on our football team. It’s not only going help us defensively, it’s going to help us on special teams. That was an area obviously this year because of depth at linebacker, it hurt a little bit on special teams, and to load up on that area, that position to help us next year really was important for us.”

Priorities For Remaining Open Spots

“Needs moving forward, we still have some for the February signing date. We want to make sure we get another DB. We want to get another defensive lineman, another offensive lineman, up front on both sides of the ball, and then we need to get a tight end, also. So those are really kind of some of our immediate needs as we move forward into the February signing period.”

On The Return Of Henry Baker

“I just would like to also take the opportunity to welcome Henry Baker back into the program. Most of you know Cory Robinson left us, but we hired Henry back. Henry is an unbelievable person, a great coach, great teacher, very good recruiter, and he’s very familiar with our program and the state of New Jersey and excited to have him back.”

On Overcoming 1-11 Season On Recruiting Trail

“We talked about that during the season. The message didn’t change. It’s about our program, our plan. It’s a comprehensive program from the education to the life skills to the career development. The culture of the individuals in our locker room. It’s part of the build. We’ve got a young football team. All those things had been communicated from the start, and that communication didn’t stop. And because of the relationships that we built with the players and then the feedback that they received from our current players about the culture of the locker room and what we’re doing and how excited they are about the future, the combination of those things really helped us.”

On Beating Out Other Big Ten Schools For Certain Players

“Yeah, I think so, because other good teams usually want good players, and if you’re able to either hold some guys off or flip a guy or two, for us that’s a big deal, especially, again, after the season we had. That makes it more difficult. But I’m really excited that we were able to do that, and again, I think that’s a testimony to the work that we’ve put in and the culture of our locker room to be able to do that.”

On Adding Several Recruits In Recent Days

“A lot of hard work leading up to it. I think we’ve evaluated as many guys as we possibly could evaluate here in the last few months, and then we went to work trying to build relationships. But it gets back to our players. I think the last three official visit weekends that we’ve had, our players killed it for us. They did a great job, and they embraced it. They know we need competition on this football team to get better. They know we’re a young team. We had needs that we needed to fill. We needed to create competition. Our players embraced it, and they did a great job with them. Again, the feedback I received from parents and recruits was just unbelievable about our players.”

On If Drew Singleton Will Be Eligible This Season

“I don’t know. I mean, that’s between compliance and Drew and his family. There’s things that they’ll go through. But I have no comment on it, and I don’t know.”

Singleton’s Decision To Transfer To Rutgers From Michigan

Drew was a highly recruited individual. He could have really gone anywhere he wanted to in the country, and he decided to come back for a lot of reasons. I think you’d have to ask Drew about that whole process and what went into it, but I think it does send a message that just because you leave and go away from home doesn’t mean it’s going to be a better experience for you. He’d never taken an official visit until he came on an official visit, and I think he saw a lot of great things that are going on here within the university and our program that he got excited about and wanted to come back, because when he announced his transfer from Michigan, it wasn’t like he just said, I’m going to Rutgers. He had a lot of people calling him, and he was a hot free agent. We were lucky to get him.”

Whether The Play Of The Young Players Down The Stretch Helped Recruit This Class

“Without a doubt, absolutely. The way we played in the last five games and the competitive play that our players displayed made a difference because it actually excited the recruits. Like you know what, if I can go there and help these guys improve on the way they finish, some good things can happen, so it played a huge role.”

On Instituting A Player Panel During Official Visits For Recruits

Yeah, player panel, that’s what a lot of people do around college football. Been doing it for a long time. We’ve done it here before, and it’s just an opportunity for parents and recruits to ask players basically anything they want without the presence of a coach, and there were some really difficult questions thrown out, and I don’t know what they were, and I didn’t ask for responses, but the parents said the players answered them incredibly, and they got some great information and were pleased with the way the players handled themselves and the answers to the questions that they were given. You know, that’s the feedback that we received.”

On Potential Coaching Changes

“It’s college football, and college football there are a lot of things that happen everywhere in the country, so right now today, no, I’ve got nothing to discuss other than our recruits that we signed today. But that’s it. But it’s college football, and you never know what the future holds.”

On How The Class Is Shaping Up After Losing Streak In The Fall

“Absolutely. Obviously we were going through a tough stretch during the season. It could have gone any direction. Thankfully, again, the relationships that we had built during the tough stretch were really -- we built before we hit the tough stretch was really important, and the consistent messaging that we had throughout it, and the way the players helped us made a difference. It really did. But the end product today -- now, we’re not done recruiting. We still have some scholarships we need to go fill, and we need to continue to build on what we did today, but yeah, I think where we landed today was definitely better than probably any of us thought we could have at this point.”

Full Press Conference: