It could've been the greatest thing in Rutgers Football history. Rutgers could have a top-15 recruiting class chock ful of New Jersey kids. Once one 4-star recruit from New Jersey pulled the trigger on Rutgers, everyone would follow. This was the 2016 Dream Team, and it was nothing but a pipe dream.
My Personal Take
Rutgers 2016 Dream Team
Don't get me wrong, I am one of the biggest Rutgers fans out there, and I was a true believer of the 2016 Dream Team. There was the thought of Jarrett Guarantano handing the ball off to Kareem Walker and chucking it around the field to Ahmir Mitchell and Brad Hawkins. Rashan Gary and Ron Johnson would wreak havoc on opposing QBs and Rutgers would dominate the B1G for years.
We all wanted it to happen and it seemed like a possibility at one point. Flood would have regular meeting with Gary, Guarantano, and Walker and pushed and pushed to get someone to pull the trigger. That is all Kyle Flood needed to happen, but it never did.
Kareem Walker pulled a shocker and committed to Ohio State during the National Championship Game which put a huge dent in the Dream Team. Rashan Gary never pushed his recruitment which meant that he would not be the first to commit anywhere. Although the biggest heartbreak of all was when Jarrett Guarantano and Dwayne Haskins both held on to Rutgers until the very end when they both bolted down south to Tennessee and Maryland. This ultimately put an end to the Dream Team. Verdict: failure (Although there is absolutely NO reason to be disappointed about the 2016 class).
Speaking of Maryland, they had a "movement" as well. That hasn't worked out too well for the Terrapins and their gem recruit, Dwayne Haskins, seemed to have legitimate interest elsewhere. Although he never actually visited Florida, it is worth noting he was not 100% focused on his commitment to Maryland.
The Haskins 20
The core of the UMD Movement was the Haskins 20. I write in the past tense because that movement is as good as gone. Of those 20 players, the only one committed to Maryland is Jeff Pooler, a 2-star DT. Of those players, one is also committed to Rutgers is 2/3-star OT Elijah Johnson. 4-star WR Tino Ellis is choosing between Virginia Tech and Maryland on Friday and besides him, Maryland is out of play for most of those players. It is definitely worth noting that if on August 8th, 4-star CB Patrice Rene commits to Rutgers as expected, there is a chance that more players from that list will be committed to Rutgers as opposed to Maryland. "The Movement" verdict: failure (with a slight chance of a complete train wreck).
An Experts Take
I was fortunate enough to speak with Michael Foti of 247 Sports on the topic. Here is what he had to say:
GW: Was the Rutgers 2016 Dream Team ever a legitimate possibility?
MF: I think 'Dream Team' is a bit optimistic, but there was a legitimate chance for a while that Rutgers would have been able to keep a good majority of the top players home. RU was never going to keep ALL the top players home, but at one point in time, they were legitimate contenders for Gary, Guarantano, and Walker, among others. I think the turning point was when Guarantano announced for Tennessee.
GW: Which player(s) would have had to commit to Rutgers to cause the Dream Team dominoes fall?
MF: Jarrett Guarantano, Kareem Walker, Rashan Gary
GW: It is widely known that Rashan Gary is going to take his time with his recruitment. Do you think his timetable for a decision caused NJ recruits to not wait on Rutgers and go other places?
MF: I don't think so. This class of players was unusually close, so they were all aware of what each other was doing. Gary would have certainly attracted players to Rutgers, but he's not a very vocal guy so he wouldn't haven done much recruiting for RU anyway. However, should he decide on Rutgers (which is extremely, extremely unlikely), I think you would see a few players reconsider their decisions.
GW: Dwayne Haskins listed 20 players he was going to try to get to join "The Movement". Obviously this has not been working out. Only one 2-star recruit is committed to Maryland and possibly two of the twenty will be committed to Rutgers by August 8th. Is this causing him to look other places?
MF: This was a very, very optimistic, borderline unrealistic list. He is definitely still recruiting some of the guys on that list, but he's also turned his attention elsewhere.
GW: If Haskins de-commits, does the Maryland class fall apart like the Rutgers 2014 class?
MF: It would fall apart even worse then RU's class of 14'.
GW: "The Movement" seemed scary at one point, and had me worried about UMD becoming elite. Is it still possible?
MF: Very doubtful. They may land another 4* or two, but nothing like what they made it out to be.
GW: Is there any Power 5 team that truly locks down their state like Rutgers fans hoped Kyle Flood would do with NJ?
MF: No one did it better than Texas under Mack Brown, but it's no coincidence that teams like Alabama, LSU, and Ohio State are perennial top 5 teams because they do a great job in state.
Penn State [ttfp] has done well as of late, as has Ole Miss.
GW: Are "movements" really a possibility, or are most players mainly focused on making decisions that benefit themselves the most?
MF: Movements are very, very rare. A school like USC has pulled it off, but for the most part, a kid is going to do what's best for him and his family.
Obviously Rutgers and Maryland were both unsuccessful in recruiting their home states and creating actual recruiting movements. It was unlikely, but not impossible for Rutgers to have locked down all of New Jersey's top talent. They still have Kyle Flood's best recruiting class on paper with spots to fill. I would have loved nothing than more for the Dream Team to have taken place but I am very happy with who is committed to Rutgers at this point. My thought is that dream teams are possible, not realistic, and unneccesary.
Maybe it isn't possible for every one of the top 15 players in New Jersey to commit to Rutgers but as Michael stated, it is possible for a good number of the top players to stay in state. Although not likely, dream teams are not 100% impossible and could happen in a year with the right players with the right attitude and the willingness to truly put on for Jersey.
As Michael mentioned before, dream teams are not very realistic. At the end of the day, many players are focused on doing what is best for them, and no one can blame them for doing that. It is fun to draw up hypotheticals and to dream but at the same time it is important to be realistic.
Sure, we didn't get Dwayne Haskins or Jarrett Guarantano, but we have our own Elite 11 QB in Anthony Russo. Russo is the new loyal son of Rutgers and the key to the 2016 recruiting class. He also has a pretty good teammate who is also considering the Scarlet Knights. The bottom line is that Kyle Flood will recruit who is best for the program. I would rather have an out of state player who is more passionate about Rutgers and on board with Kyle Flood than a Jersey player who isn't. At the end of the day, it is about getting the right players for the program, no matter if they are from New Jersey or even Canada.