The 2021 recruiting class for Rutgers football was already off to a great start this cycle, as it was ranked 15th in the country with seven 3-star commits entering this last week of March. It got even better on Thursday evening, as 4-star outside linebacker Khayri Banton from West Side Newark became the highest rated recruit to join Rutgers since head coach Greg Schiano’s return last December.
OFFICIALLY A SCARLET KNIGHT ⚔️ #Chop21 @RFootball @RUscarletnation @GregSchiano @RUCoachFraser @CoachHoffmannRU @RUCoachFran @CoachSmithRU @TodderickHunt @RivalsFriedman @247Sports @rivalskeenan @BobbyDeren @BrianDohn247 @AlexBroggi @ShawnB_247 @RichieSRivals @Rivalsfbcamps pic.twitter.com/zsB9ptCkBd— Khayri Banton (@juiceupkha_x3) March 26, 2020
The 247 Sports composite rankings list the 6’2”, 220 pound talent as the 7th best prospect in New Jersey and 23rd best linebacker nationally in the 2021 class, as well as the 289th best recruit in the country. Banton’s recruitment was being led by assistant coaches Fran Brown and Augie Hoffman. His other offers included Tennessee, Purdue, Miami, Boston College, Syracuse, and Virginia Tech. However, Schiano and his staff were able to land the blue chip linebacker.
Banton produced 62 tackles, 7 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 4 fumble recoveries as a junior last fall for a West Side Newark team that went 9-2. His best performance statistically was in a 21-20 victory over Lincoln in which he registered an 11 tackle, 3 sack, 2 forced fumble performance. He has the speed closer to a defensive back and has an explosive burst that could make him an elite pass rusher. Schiano and his staff seem poised to develop Banton into a versatile and valuable playmaker for the defense. It’s a great addition and major talent upgrade for this unit.
It’s not only a huge addition to the future roster, it’s a major statement on the recruiting trail for Schiano and his staff. Keeping the best talent in New Jersey home is a major priority and something no other Rutgers coach has been able to do with any success before or prior to Schiano’s first tenure. Adding the top linebacker in the garden state so early in the 2021 recruiting cycle will only help build momentum with other top local talent. As I wrote here previously, Rutgers has a real chance to finish this cycle with a top 30 recruiting class, as many highly rated prospects are seriously considering choosing the Scarlet Knights.
The 2021 class now has eight players committed and Banton is the highest rated recruit in the fold, as well as the sixth from New Jersey. The class is now ranked 12th in the nation and 5th in the Big Ten per 247 Sports composite rankings. Here are junior season highlights of Banton.