The Rutgers football coaching staff continues to put work on the recruiting trail and received their first defensive player commit of the 2020 recruiting class. The Scarlet Knights secured a verbal commitment from Nick Bags of DePaul Catholic Friday:
Rutgers was the first power five conference school (12 total) to offer Nick per 247sports, but he had other visits lined up including one to Virginia Tech next week he no longer plans to take. Boston College and Wake Forest also showed strong interest. At 6’3” and 280 pounds, Bags is a solid three-star prospect, the 32nd best in New Jersey for the 2020 class according to the 247 composite which includes other sources. 247 itself has him as the 31st best player in the state (having bumped up recent commit Ahmirr Robinson).
Sometimes watching defensive tackle film is rather boring, but his couldn’t have been more opposite. Due to his effectiveness, DePaul often lines up in a 30 front with Nick at nose guard and their defensive ends matched head up against offensive tackles. What this does is allows Bags to pick a side and engage both the center and at least one guard. Lucky for us, it also makes assessing of his one on one or two on one battles much easier than if he was in the middle of a pile of carnage.
So what did I see? Bags is awesome and I have no idea how his rating is just an .8299 on the 247 composite. His first step quickness is average, still impressive considering he played at a quite natural 270 lbs. last fall it appeared. What makes him elite is his second step quickness that blows by the player primarily assigned to block him every play, requiring a double team at minimum on every single snap. Then he continues to impact the play by fighting the pressure no matter how many players get a hand on him. He continues to battle, often making second effort tackles. His hand fighting skills are good, but we need to see more on every down to call those elite. On the offensive side of the ball, Bags often lines up at tackle or as a 6th lineman (more of a tight end) and crashes down effectively on whomever is attempting to set the edge. He could easily morph into an offensive lineman as well if needed.
Nick is far from a finished product because he can physically manhandle virtually everyone at the high school level. When facing offensive linemen who are grown men and as strong as him, how long will it take him to adjust? Also when opponents simply run at him on every play, can he keep that motor running?
Bags is at worst a solid three-star prospect who will compete hard in practice and provide depth on one or both lines like Joe Giacobbe did in his career. Nick most likely will be able to contribute in the defensive tackle rotation by late in his second season (one season earlier than most) with an effectiveness similar to Charlie Noonan, maybe even Pete Tverdov. Best case Nick is a difference making disruptor like Scott Vallone all four years.
The defensive tackle spot is the most difficult position to recruit at the college level at this point in time. Finding large, not yet men who have the quickness to carry even more weight is tough enough, nevermind get a pass rush on top of it so team often have to settle by beefing up defensive ends. Rutgers got a boost from the addition of Corey Bolds earlier this week, but they only have two proven rotational defensive tackles on the 2019 roster. A team can never have enough defensive tackles (not even the New York Jets who drafted one every year in the 1st round a while), especially when you are a team near the bottom of your conference. When you are trailing, your opponents try to run the clock out up the gut and if you can’t stop it, game over. It’s exceptionally rare to find players who project above average against the run and pass, which Nick does.
I like the pickup because Rutgers needs to get more defensive tackles in their recruiting classes, a problem virtually every program other than the perennial powerhouses has. Bags could be a star and anchor the line for four years, something no one has done in quite some time on the banks. It’s also good to see the coaching staff investing in the long term since linemen often take longer to develop, confident the team will show enough improvement for them to stay a few more seasons. This is the type of defensive tackle commit film they haven’t had since maybe Ike Holmes.
Bags is the first defensive tackle in this class. The four total verbal commits thus far each have a 3-star rating in the latest 247 composite rankings. With Evan Simon and Sofian Massoud both being quarterbacks, it’s obvious the coaching staff knows that to get better they need to upgrade the passing game, but defensive tackle is the team’s second weakest position.
Here are some of Bags’s highlights:
Welcome to the banks Nick!