Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Flood Fortifies the Roster with Second-Tier Recruits

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Flood Fortifies the Roster with Second-Tier Recruits

Article excerpt

PISCATAWAY -- Like other college football coaches, Kyle Flood embraces new recruits with an affection that only the love for his children surpasses.

So don't be saying anything non-complimentary about them.

That was the subtle message the Rutgers coach delivered Wednesday as he introduced the Scarlet Knights' 25-player Class of 2015.

If you want five-star recruits, go to Alabama, If you want four- star recruits, go to Ohio State.

Rutgers has only one four-star prospect in Marques Ford, an undersized defensive lineman from Riverview, Fla., who virtually fell into RU's lap after Tennessee, his first choice, told him it had no room for him.

But Rutgers has never shied away from two and three-star recruits. Anybody connected with the program is quick to point out that the four former Scarlet Knights who were on the Super Bowl- winning Patriots were two and three-star prospects coming into college.

"I'm not into ratings," Flood said. "I'm in the performance business."

And still in the business of keeping New Jersey players at home. While Flood gloats that this class includes six from the Garden State, which will keep the roster at the goal of approximately 50 percent homegrown, there were National Signing Day ceremonies throughout the state, where highly sought-after players were declaring with out-of-state high-profile programs.

As in St. Peter's Prep in Jersey City, where quarterback Brandon Wimbush of Teaneck signed with Notre Dame, cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick signed with Alabama and linebacker Jordan Fox signed with Stanford.

The task doesn't get any easier for Rutgers. Highly regarded DePaul running back Kareem Walker, one of the top juniors in the country, has verbally committed to Ohio State, and while Rutgers is among the many suitors for Paramus Catholic defensive tackle-end Rashon Gary, the No. 1 or No. 2 junior in the country depending on what ratings system you subscribe to, the Scarlet Knights are considered long shots to persuade Gary to stay home.

"That process has been ongoing for about a year," Flood said of romancing underclassmen.

The process never ends. But first-year recruiting coordinator Phil Galiano says Rutgers now has better name recognition because the Scarlet Knights won eight games, including three in the Big Ten last season in their first year in the power conference.

"It used to be if we were in outside areas, they thought we were an Ivy League school," said Galiano, a former RU assistant coach. "We've come a long way since I first got here in 2002."

This class provides needed depth on the offensive line and features a two-sport performer in Jawuan Harris, a wide receiver from Pembroke Pines, Fla., who'll also play baseball in college. Four recruits, including linebacker Isaiah Johnson, a junior college player from California, already have enrolled at RU.

Several prospects attended earlier Rutgers summer camps, led by Elmwood Park quarterback Michael Dare, the first player in this class to commit. …

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