With National Signing Day quickly approaching, CBR will be giving you a daily roundup of the key developments on the national recruiting scene up until the ink is dry on all those letters of intent.
Here are Friday’s headlines, or as we like to call them, the “Let’s Poach Rutgers Edition.”
Yes, let’s start in beautiful Piscataway, NJ. Because while the headlines across the sports ticker yesterday read “Mildly successful coach takes over uninteresting NFL franchise” (or something similar), they quickly became “Everybody get to Rutgers! Insecure 17-year-olds unsure of their college futures!”
Yup, that’s right. Because while the Scarlet Knights have only been slightly better than .500 the last two years on the field, off of it, they were putting together a monster recruiting class. A number of four star players were already committed, and Rutgers was also believed to be the favorite for the No. 11 player in the country, defensive end Darius Hamilton.
Well, as that kooky old man Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend.” Here’s a recap of what happened in Jersey as things broke Thursday.
For Greg Schiano (now property of the Tampa Bay Bucs) the day was supposed to start at New Jersey prep powerhouse Don Bosco Prep, with a meeting between himself, his staff and a number of the top signed and unsigned players in the state of New Jersey, including Hamilton. But while his staff showed up, Schiano didn’t, leading to mass confusion… at least until the Tampa Bay rumors started to break.
Now a number of Rutgers most highly sought after commits have re-opened their recruitments, with just about everyone under the recruiting sun circling like vultures. J.J. Denmon- who just this weekend de-committed from Wisconsin to pledge his allegiance with the Scarlet Knights- appears to be firm for now ($), while UConn is licking their lips at the chance to get back in with fellow four-star Ryan Brodie who they just missed out on the first time around. Hamilton will now likely choose between Florida, and Miami, which he is visiting this weekend. Be warned though, according to his own father, Rutgers isn't yet out of the mix.
In a note not related to any player in specific, SB Nation is reporting that part of Schiano’s reason for leaving was the mass confusion on the Big East, in light of all the conference realignment of the past two years. Big surprise there, huh?
In non-Rutgers related news…
Stanford Seals Five-Star Commit:
With Rutgers stealing the recruiting spotlight on Thursday, there was still plenty more moving and shaking outside of New Jersey.
The biggest winner seems to be Stanford, who impressively continues to recruit hard, and very well could end Signing Day with the top class in the Pac-12. David Shaw added another notch under his recruiting belt on Thursday, when he got a commit from five-star offensive lineman Josh Garnett. Garnett picked the Cardinal over Michigan, and a handful of other suitors.
Staying With the “Smart” Schools:
Of every team this recruiting season, maybe the one who has turned the most heads is Vanderbilt. James Franklin has been recruiting his brains out, and has taken a number of committed players, and talked them into a future in Nashville.
That trend continued on Thursday, when he convinced linebacker Jakarri Thomas to spur the Arkansas Razorbacks (coming off an 11-2 season, mind you) and come to Vanderbilt. According to Rivals, Vandy now has four four-star players signed, and 18 three-stars. Not a terrible class at all.
Mark Richt Continues To Make Moves:
While Georgia fans have been quite vocal in expressing their frustrations with Mark Richt through the years, one thing that they do acknowledge is that few recruit better than the Dawgs coach does.
On Wednesday Crystal Ball Run told you about Richt’s plans to visit a church service to land a top recruit, a service which ended, with Richt in jail. Yup, that happened.
Well, apparently the prison food was the fuel Richt needed, because he and his staff were back on the prowl Thursday, visiting the top wide receiver in Georgia, JaQuay Williams. Williams has been a long-time Auburn commit, and granted, Richt’s move isn’t expected to change his decision.
Still, these things never go final until the ink is dry, and if anyone can get Williams to flip, it could very well be Richt.
Things got a little chippy down in the Tarheel State, where linebacker James Summers flipped the script, and chose the North Carolina Tar Heels over the NC State Wolfpack, the team which he had been previously committed.
No word yet on if North Carolina’s big win over the Wolfpack on Thursday night had anything to do with the decision.
Please be sure to check back with Crystal Ball Run in the lead-up to Signing Day for late-breaking announcements, news and more!
For all his opinion, insight and articles on college football and beyond, please follow Aaron Torres on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.