The first early signing day of Greg Schiano’s tenure at Rutgers has yielded 18 new players joining the program. I wanted to look at the geographical makeup of the class. Schiano made the “State of Rutgers” a priority the first time he was leading the program and promises to do so again. While he ended up signing seven players who originally committed under former head coach Chris Ash, they all fit Schiano’s long term strategic plan regarding location.
Ten players who signed on Wednesday are from New Jersey. Tyreem Powell, Chris Long, Malachi “Max” Melton, are all from South Jersey. They also were all late commits to the class after flipping from other schools. Powell was committed to Virginia Tech, Long to Temple, and Melton to Purdue. The addition of secondary coach Fran Brown, who is a tremendous recruiter overall and historically successful in South Jersey, made a big impact, along with Schiano, right away. Powell, Long, and Melton are the first, third, and fourth highest rated players in the 2020 recruiting class so far.
The seven other commits from the Garden State are from North Jersey. Bryan Felter is the second highest rated prospect in the class, is from Oradell and Bergen Catholic. Elijuwan Mack is the sixth highest rated member and from Montvale, while attending St. Joseph’s Regional. Other North Jersey commits include Isaiah Wright (Jersey City, St. Peter’s Prep), Ahmirr Robinson (Union, Union), Victor Konopka (Blairstown, Blair Academy), Shawn Collins, Montclair, Montclair), and Kyle Monangai (Ramsey, Don Bosco Prep). Of the seven, only Konopka and Monangai were non-Ash recruits.
While the final eight players signed were not from New Jersey, amazingly none fell outside of the “State of Rutgers” except one.
Evan Simon is from Manheim, Pennsylvania, the eastern part of what is a traditionally quarterback rich state. He was already committed before Schiano took over.
Junior College transfer Cedrice Paillant is from New Rochelle, New York, which is the same hometown as former Rutgers great Ray Rice. Tunde Fatukasi, brother of Olakunle, is from Erasmus Hall in Brooklyn, New York.
Troy Rainey hails from Bridgeport, Connecticut where he played for Harding.
The only three signees not from the Northeast are Robert Longerbeam from T.C. Williams in Alexandria, Virginia (DMV) and Jack Del Rio from Clearwater, Florida and Clearwater Central Catholic, and UCF transfer Malik Barrow. Del Rio was the seventh recruit in the class committed before Schiano arrived. Barrow hails from Tampa, Florida. As our David Anderson detailed in his assessment of what Schiano’s “State of Rutgers 2.0” will look like based on the coach’s comments upon being hired, all three fall into the strategic plan of locations he plans to target on the recruiting trail moving forward.
Late Wednesday, Texas native and Baylor transfer Peyton Powell signed and is considered an athlete who could play on either side of the ball. Schiano had mentioned Texas as a new territory he wanted to recruit in his second stint at Rutgers, so this is a promising development.
In just two weeks since Schiano was announced as head coach, he has signed a class that while only comprised of 3-star recruits, but improved almost 40 spots in the 247 Sports composite rankings for the 2020 cycle. The class is currently ranked 64th nationally and last in the Big Ten. Based on the fact Schiano had little time, doesn’t have close to a complete coaching staff yet, and is inheriting a program on a 23 game losing streak to power five opponents and 21 game Big Ten losing streak, you have to give him a lot of credit for even getting the class ranked that high. Still, it’s not a highly ranked class overall. However, I find the real positive to be that three of the top four players in the class were from South Jersey and the addition of Brown gives hope Rutgers will have a lot more success there in the future.
We will have a full report card for the 2020 recruiting class later today.
Overall, despite the need to improve the raw talent in the 2021 recruiting class and beyond, Schiano has picked up right where he left off 8 years ago in targeting the geographical locations that make sense for Rutgers. It’s where he has connections and credibility, as well as talent rich areas that can help rebuild this program. Where he expands the footprint based on Rutgers being in the Big Ten now and the coaching staff he hires will be interesting to watch for in future classes, thus growing the “State of Rutgers”.
For all of our early signing day coverage for Rutgers football, click here.