The Rutgers football coaching staff continues to put work on the recruiting trail and received their first commitment in a little over a week on Friday night. The Scarlet Knights secured a verbal commitment from Wide Receiver Brayden Fox of Akron, Ohio:
ALL IN... COMMITED TO RUTGERS UNIVERSITY ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/oYuFWT0FH4— Brayden (@brayfox04) April 10, 2020
Rutgers seemed to be battling it out with division foe Michigan State for his services, though the wide receiver had nine other Division I offers with other Power Five schools showing interest per 247sports. At 6’3” and 200 pounds, Fox is a solid three-star prospect, the 41st best in Ohio for the 2021 class according to the 247 composite which includes other sources.
It’s always fun to watch wide receiver film and the first thing that jumps out is that Fox looks a lot more agile than a guy who is 6’3”. He is equally skilled split wide or out of the slot and is just devastating on the slant pattern. In this regard he reminds me at the high school level of what Eric Decker did for the Broncos and Jets at the NFL level. The reason he is so good is that his timing on when to adjust for the ball is close to perfect and he can contort his body to protect the ball and shield a defender in the process. After the catch he shows surprising acceleration to explode out of traffic into open space, another reason why he is dangerous in the middle of the field. High school defenders have trouble pressing him due to his size and arm length. He also uses his stiff arm to be slippery with the ball.
Brayden though is far from a finished product and his routes are built around the fear defenders have for the slant. For example, with so much cushion, he also is dangerous on screen passes that will be harder to execute in tight coverage. If a defense can neutralize that slant pattern, his counter moves will be less effective. To do so, defensive backs (stronger in college by far) will press him to mess up his rhythm with his quarterback and may employ more safety help or disguise coverages. At times he also pins the ball to his chest rather than snatching with his hands. When defenses press and he does go deep, he needs to ensure he attacks the ball at its highest point. On deep balls he’s fast, but not as fast as an Andrew Turzilli who simply galloped away from defenders.
Fox is at worst a solid three-star prospect who will compete hard in practice and provide depth like Tyler Hayek has done in his career. Brayden most likely will be able to contribute in the wide receiver rotation by late in his second season like a more highly regarded prospect in Shameen Jones. Best case Fox can start as a freshman like Isaiah Washington did in 2019.
The wide receiver position at Rutgers has been a black hole the last two (three?!?!) years, so it’s obvious the team needs to continue trying to find difference makers, especially with some height as the new coaching staff tries to add size to the fold. Even after attrition through the transfer portal, the number of scholarship receivers is still high. Anyone who can make plays regardless of eligibility is going to get reps and since a team can use as many as four or five receivers at a time.
I like the pickup because Rutgers needs as much new blood in the wide receiver corps as possible. It’s often said that drops are contagious and the overall group the last few years has struggled with that. The saying is more applicable to basketball, but if you aren’t good at least be big. Rutgers has been both small and bad the last few years at this spot so at least they are trying to change things up with players like Fox.
Fox is the third wide receiver in this class. The eleven total verbal commits include a 4-star prospect and 10 3-stars, placing Rutgers 4th in the Big Ten and 11th nationally in the latest 247 composite rankings for the 2021 class.
Here are some of Fox’s highlights:
Welcome to the banks Brayden!