Rutgers Football: 2021 Recruiting Moving Slowly, but Holding on

Greg Schiano, Rutgers Scarlet Knights. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Greg Schiano, Rutgers Scarlet Knights. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Although the 2021 Rutgers football team hasn’t necessarily taken shape yet, there is still plenty of time for Greg Schiano and company to recruit.

It doesn’t feel like the same Rutgers football program these days, even though the pandemic’s flirting with putting college football on hold, Scarlet Knights fans at least can cling onto a very good recruiting run by head coach Greg Schiano and his staff.

Schiano wanted to put an emphasis on establishing territory over the entire state of New Jersey, and so far, he’s succeeded.

“These high school coaches are dying to send their kids there,” said Dave Albano.

Albano is the head coach of Parsippany Hills High School in Morris Plains, New Jersey, and he has two kids committed to Rutgers and Schiano for 2021. One is Jordan Thompson, a three-star athlete who is one of the five best-rated recruits for the class so far. The other is two-star long snapper, Zack Taylor.

“I’ve been a head coach for 25 years, I want nothing more than to see Rutgers being a top-25 team or playing in a bowl game. There would be nothing more exciting than that for all of us,” said Albano.

New Jersey has a lot of great high school football talent and the state is tied for second among the home states of all Big Ten teams with eight four/five-star recruits, with only Maryland having more, as they have 15, New Jersey, and Michigan both have 8.

The issue with Rutgers in recent years is that they just haven’t had enough of a pitch to keep kids in-state. However, that’s changing with a well-known great coach in Schiano coming back to Piscataway.

Schiano has strong connections to the Garden State and has hired a staff that can say the same. In his efforts to sign many of those blue-chip four/five-star guys, so far, he only has one committed. The number of recruits still matters; and therefore Rutgers is ranked 19th in the country for the 2021 class. (All rankings and ratings are used from the 247Sports ranking and rating services.)  Rutgers has signed 19 three-stars out of a total of 21 commits so far.

One of those three-stars is St. Joseph Regional’s Keshon Griffin, a defensive end who is the second-highest rated recruit in this RU class. His head coach had high praise for how Rutgers is recruiting this year.

“The relationships were already there,” said Dan Marangi. “They’re capitalizing on the momentum right now. I think people see that Coach Schiano’s done it before at Rutgers so people are willing to believe in him, and they’ve got people believing that they’re going to get this thing turned around and going in the right direction.”

He emphasizes that stars from New Jersey high schools deserve a competitive program to continue their football careers at.

“It would be tremendous,” said Marangi. “To have a school and a college right in our own backyard to go out and compete with the big-time schools, it would be something special. I think New Jersey football is as good as any, and I’ve coached against people from all over the country and played teams from all over the country, Jersey football’s right up there. Rutgers would be a chance to showcase that. Obviously, the kids are going to make their own decisions, but to have that choice, it would be really good for us.”

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10 of Rutgers’ current commits for the Class of 2021, hail from New Jersey. Right now, it looks like Rutgers will be acquiring more in-state talent once commitments start to heat up again, specifically from Marangi’s program. 6’4″, 313-lb guard Geno VanDeMark out of St. Joseph Regional looks like a lock to commit to the Scarlet Knights. The four-star prospect would be the highest-rated recruit in the class if he signed right now.

His teammate and fellow four-star player, running back Audric Estime, is also looking like a sure thing for Rutgers right now. Signing these two would be crucial, as Rutgers doesn’t have a very top-heavy class when it comes to four and five-star guys. The reason Rutgers ranks so well is because of the quantity of the players they’ve signed, not exactly the quality. There’s nothing wrong with that, as 247Sports team rankings have a solid history of being accurate.

However, if Rutgers can pull off these two commitments, they could perhaps jump into the top 15.

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Perhaps some athletes are holding off on committing due to the uncertainty of what college football will look like this year, or if it even will exist. While the future of college football might be uncertain, nothing takes away the fact that Rutgers is currently out-recruiting programs like Alabama, Oklahoma, and Penn State. However they’re doing it, they’re doing something right.