The new Rutgers football coaching staff continues to add players to the 2020 recruiting class. This is now five prospects to give verbal commitments in the past week, four in 28 hours. The Scarlet Knights secured Robert Longerbeam of T.C. Williams in Virginia on Wednesday:
Like Chris Long who committed Tuesday, Robert was previously committed to Temple. Rutgers is the first Power Five school to offer. New Rutgers defensive backs coach Fran Brown was his primary recruiter while at Temple, sound familiar? At 6’0” and 160 pounds, Longerbeam is a solid three-star prospect, the 23rd best in Virginia and 39th best athlete nationally for the 2020 class according to the 247 composite which includes rankings from other recruiting services. For 247 itself, he is the 15th best player in Virginia.
Admittedly, Wednesday was the first I watched Robert’s film after he decomitted from Temple. He looks taller than most players listed at an even six foot, and his feet move surprisingly quickly in all aspects of the game. Due to the leg churn he is able to tip toe down the sideline, change direction without having to move his upper body, or torque his upper body to avoid defenders without losing balance. Robert’s move to stop, let the defender fly by then cut and accelerate looks a lot like former RU running back Robert Martin. His ability to change direction on offense is elite and above average at worst on defense. When a receiver makes his break, Longerbeam can often beat him to the spot where the ball is thrown. He avoids contact on offense, but is quite physical on defense. In his junior film, his defensive awareness was below average but in the senior year highlights you can see him close ground a lot faster, react to the ball, and deliver bigger hits. As a kick returner he is a slightly slower version of Jeremy Deering, but if he gets open field will probably not be caught.
Honestly, I’m really not sure what to make of Robert’s film. Robert lines up everywhere it looks like: quarterback, running back, receiver, safety, linebacker, and corner at least. On one hand, if he’s fast enough to play cornerback he could be an immediate starter like Blessuan Austin straight out of the gate. On the flip side, his smooth moves but lack of elite defensive quickness may destine him for an outside linebacker spot like T.J. Taylor ended up helping out at when not injured. He’s an awesome runner as a quarterback (like Wayne Warren was) and could be a dark horse to line up at that spot down the line. In the shotgun, he definitely has some Anthony Brown in him, who is from South Jersey and recently entered the transfer portal. Longerbeam is not being recruited as a quarterback more so because he looks to have been coached like Buddy Ryan coached Randall Cunningham with the Eagles, run the ball unless you have to throw and then look for an open receiver. He’s so good at running though, why not? If Robert can throw the football reliably, he could be a dangerous weapon but I didn’t see much on film. So he is NOT Mohamed Sanu right now. He does do a pretty good job getting off blocks which looks partially due to effort, long arms, and instincts.
Being somewhere in the 15-25th best prospect in the state of Virginia is pretty good. I like the pickup because the DMV (Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia) is a densely populated, talent rich area. Longerbeam is yet another lottery ticket that if he can stick with Big Ten wideouts will likely end up in the NFL. Even though there is no guarantee, his floor is a well-rounded player that will provide depth for years to come. He’s not the scout team quarterback I would want to have to chase all week. This is the type of prospect that I gave Greg Schiano the benefit of the doubt in developing his first time on the banks (though there were a few mismanaged like Jeremy Deering), but Kyle Flood and Chris Ash struggled with other than Bless Austin. Along those lines I think his best usage to Rutgers is if he can play cornerback, though if he can’t could end up a variety of spots depending on depth needs.
Longerbeam is the second athlete in this class (after Chris Long). The twelve total verbal commits (this number has risen with more commits than decommits over the past week) thus far each have a 3-star rating in the latest 247 composite rankings. With so little time and few scholarships this cycle, the staff seems to be prioritizing size and speed heading into early signing day next Wednesday, December 18.
Check out some highlights below. They are worth watching just to see him juke defenders and have them fly by:
Welcome to the banks Robert!
NOTE: Special mention to Scott Angus on Twitter for all his hilarious Greg Schiano gifs, the second of which noticed while looking at Longerbeam’s account.