On Monday night, the top running back in New Jersey for the class of 2019 narrowed his decision down to four schools. 4-star recruit Rahmir Johnson from Bergen Catholic included Rutgers and this time, head coach Chris Ash and the staff have a real shot to land the talented back.
Thank you to all the coaches that have recruited me. It has been a blessing to meet so many great men. I have narrowed my list to 4 schools and plan to make a decision soon. pic.twitter.com/tN5TTx9Qmh— Rahmir Johnson⚡️ (@rahmir_johnson) May 1, 2018
Johnson’s former high school coach, Nunzio Campanile, is now the running backs coach at Rutgers. It certainly gives the Scarlet Knights a unique selling point that no other program can offer. However, Johnson did visit Nebraska in March and according to 247 Sports Crystal Ball predictions, the Cornhuskers are the favorite in his recruitment. Boston College is in the mix as well, as former Scarlet Knights assistant and Nunzio’s brother, Anthony, have been recruiting Johnson for a while. Ole Miss was the final school mentioned in his top four. Johnson has visited all four programs in the past six weeks, according to 247 Sports. He holds over a dozen power five offers, but other Big Ten programs Indiana, Maryland, and Minnesota didn’t make the cut.
While Rutgers is off to a solid start with the class of 2019, as four of the top 30 recruits in New Jersey have verbally committed to the program, landing prospects in the top ten of the state on an annual basis is the ultimate goal for Ash. He did a great job landing two in the top five in his first recruiting cycle in 2017 and Bo Melton is poised to be a star, while Micah Clark has a chance to emerge on the offensive line next season as well. In 2018, Daevon Robinson, the 9th rated recruit in New Jersey in his class, was the only top ten prospect to sign with Rutgers. Already in the 2019 class, six of the top ten have verbally committed elsewhere, with the usual suspects in Notre Dame and Penn State landing two each. Rutgers was included as a finalist for the top offensive lineman in the state, John Olmstead of St. Joseph’s, but he selected the Irish back in April.
Johnson would give Rutgers a bonafide playmaker at running back, as he is ranked as the 19th rusher in the country, per 247 Sports composite rankings. His versatility is intriguing, as the 5’10” Johnson could be a pass catching threat out the backfield, as well as a rusher with true speed. While Johnson wasn’t the primary back at Bergen Catholic last season, he did have 90 rushing attempts for 555 yards, 6 touchdowns and 6.2 yards per carry. He also had 11 receptions for 97 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 19 yard score in the State championship game against St. Peter’s last fall. Johnson was also a factor on special teams, returning 23 kickoffs an average of 18.6 yards. All stats courtesy of MaxPreps.com.
In 2018, Johnson has stood out as well on the track for Bergen Catholic and produced a season’s best time of 10.5 seconds in the 100 yard dash and 22.99 seconds in the 200 yard dash, per NJ Advance Media. He is setting himself up for a big season next fall on the gridiron where he should be the lead back for Bergen Catholic. His ability to find open space by using his speed to run off the edge would be a welcomed weapon for Rutgers in the future.
While Nebraska is the perceived leader for Johnson, Rutgers appears to have a legitimate shot to land the talented running back. Whether he is including his home state school as a finalist as a courtesy to his former high school coach or is he seriously considering staying local to help turn around Ash’s program remains to be seen. The fact is Rutgers has a chance to grab an impact recruit and potentially sign a top ten prospect in New Jersey for the third consecutive year after suffering through a five year drought without signing any before Ash’s arrival. For Rutgers to climb the ladder to the top half of the Big Ten conference, breaking through with top ten recruits in the state on a regular basis is a must. With Johnson intending to announce soon, it would likely add major momentum for Ash and the staff with the 2019 class, or it could end up being another close miss.
Update: Johnson committed to Nebraska on Saturday.