Pipeline states are a necessity in college football recruiting. If you ever played NCAA Football 14, you probably remember trying to fight to add coveted pipelines like Florida and Texas, or even gems like New Jersey. You could even recruit Canadian players. There never was an option for any overseas countries. Truth be told, outside of the U.S., Canada and Polynesia, most people assume football competition is lackluster.
Rutgers football recruiting has created a pipeline country with Sweden. The same country that gave us Ikea, ABBA and soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimović now has strong ties to Rutgers football.
The 2019 recruiting class features six-foot-five, 285-pound offensive lineman Anton Oskarsson, who is rated as a three-star prospect by 247Sports.com. The Stockholm native chose Rutgers because it felt like home. The Scarlet Knights weren’t the only team eyeing the big bodied bruiser.
“Indiana, Eastern Michigan, Ohio University and Towson were interested [in me],” Oskarsson said. “The thing with Rutgers is that campus feels like home to me. The coaches at Rutgers have always been clear with what they want and expect from me. I think it was the whole feeling about the school, coaches and football that got me to commit to Rutgers.”
Like many recruits, pressure surrounded Anton during the recruiting period. This pressure was magnified for Oskarsson given the fact that he was taking his talents to a whole new country. Needless to say, sealing his decision during the early signing period was a big relief. His family loved the similar feel to home that Rutgers campus had, and supported his decision.
“After signing, I felt a heavy weight off my shoulders,” said Oskarsson. “I could relax and just hang out with my friends and family without thinking of my recruiting. My folks really appreciated Rutgers because the university is built familiar like cities in Sweden. Also the close distance to New York City. My family finds it [to be] really positive!”
Football isn’t a new found passion for Anton. He began playing at a young age, all thanks to a remake of a football comedy.
“I started playing football at the age of 10. I started playing in the local club Örebro Black Knights U11/13. I got interested in football by the movie The Longest Yard.”
Rutgers fans owe Adam Sandler and Nelly a thank you for inspiring one of their future offensive lineman to pick up the game. Anton noted that despite his love for the game, the popularity and participation in Sweden is a bit stagnant, but on the rise across Europe.
“In Sweden, the youth teams are unfortunately decreasing at the moment,” said Oskarsson. “In Europe, generally, football is growing fast and Europeans are getting familiar to the sport. For the last 10 years, football has taken a bigger place in Sweden. But as I said, it’s going downward [in participation].”
Anton has formed bond with fellow Swedes, and Scarlet Knights, Sam Vretman and Robin Jutwreten. Jutwreten recently accompanied the Oskarsson family during Anton’s official visit.
During his official visit, Anton and his family connected with Rutgers coaching staff. He had a strong bond with former offensive line coach A.J. Blazek, who left for North Dakota State. Despite his absence, Anton felt positive about the family atmosphere the coaching staff created for him during his visit.
“Coach Blazek recruited me hard, and unfortunately he left Rutgers a few days ago. I would say I got to know a big part of the coaching staff at the official visit. They greeted me and my parents with open arms.”
Despite being thousands of miles away from home, Oskarsson isn’t too worried about the transition. His experience at an academy in Sweden prepared him for life away from home.
“I am excited about starting college,” said Oskarsson. “Of course I will miss a lot from home, but my home will always be there, so I don’t find it that difficult to leave. I moved out from my parents at the age of 16 to enroll at RIG academy, so I think it will be the same. I need to get new friends, just as last time. The difference now is that I move to another country.”
Anton also believes that life and the coaching staff at RIG have prepared him for play in one of the most competitive conferences in college football.
“Coach Robert Johansson is like a football god here in Sweden. I believe kids from Sweden can’t be better prepared for college and the Big Ten then they are at RIG academy. You can’t get a environment similar to RIG anywhere in the Nordic countries.”
Besides towering over people, Anton is larger than life in many ways. He is an inspiration for international football players, specifically fellow Europeans looking to play college football in the United States. He had the following motivational words to say for up and coming European football stars.
“You don’t have to attend at an American high school to play college football! If you have what it takes to get into a boarding school, do it! On top of that, reach out to PPI [Premier players International]. Get on a dream chasers tour! Nothing but yourself can stop you!”