Rutgers fans hoping for a big name quarterback in this recruiting class were initially disappointed when first Jarrett Guarantano, then Dwayne Haskins had Rutgers as finalists but ended up giving verbal commitments to other programs. This past weekend's Elite 11 national showcase, however, showed that Rutgers may have landed that top-end quarterback after all.
But turns out Rutgers knew this all along about unheralded quarterback Anthony Russo even when their fans were too busy star-gazing.
While Guarantano, a four-star according to Rivals.com and the top quarterback in New Jersey and Haskins, Rivals' fourth-ranked quarterback in the nation, are headed elsewhere, it is the lightly-recruited Russo who landed at Rutgers and is now impressing on the national stage. At this past weekend's Elite 11 showcase, Russo finished as one of the nation's Elite 11 quarterbacks, wowing former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer in the process en route to the elite honor.
Also in that list were Haskins and Guarantano, players who Rutgers recruited heavily and fans drooled over because they were highly rated by scouting services such as Rivals.com and Scout.com. Yet Russo's performance put him above several other marquee quarterbacks invited to participate in the event. A two-star recruit according to Rivals.com, Russo finished higher than several national quarterback recruits at the event and just getting the invite alone based off a regional camp performance was prestigious.
To actually make Elite 11 shows that Rutgers was in on something early about Russo.
And this is not exactly news for the Rutgers coaching staff. One team source tells Metro that on the proverbial big board where all recruits are ranked, both offensive coordinator Ben McDaniels and Ralph Friedgen, a consultant who was offensive coordinator last year, had Russo ranked among their top two quarterback recruits.
In fact, one of the two had Russo as the top quarterback on his recruit big board.
The source said that both McDaniels and Friedgen ranked Russo ahead of Guarantano, a four-star national recruit who ended up committing to Tennessee and had offers from Ohio State as well as Auburn, LSU and Michigan among others. This despite the fact that Russo was being largely ignored by the name programs at the time.
In Russo, Rutgers landed a quarterback who was lightly recruited as the Scarlet Knights were his only BCS offer at the time. But as the recently concluded Elite 11 shows, Russo may have been a steal commitment for Rutgers and is arguably the best prospect at quarterback to commit to the program since Tom Savage, a four-star recruit out of Philadelphia who is now a member of the Houston Texans.