Rutgers fans pushing #CHOPNation hashtag to influence recruits

Rutgers fans
Rutgers fans are bringing their enthusiasm to Twitter.
Credit: Getty Images


Rutgers football can’t compete against the likes of Penn State and Ohio State in terms of prestige, but on Twitter, Scarlet Knights fans are trying to be one step ahead.

Jay Poole, a Rutgers graduate who majored in economics is trying to help the football team by winning on social media. With nearly every recruit on Twitter these days, Poole saw other programs — especially ones in Rutgers’ future Big Ten Conference home — were working hard to push their school to possible players. Messages and tweets were sent from other college fanbases “showing love” as these prized teenage athletes call it.

So Poole and other fans got fed up and created #CHOPNation.

“The movement started in the wake of some of the more recent recruiting struggles Rutgers has had. We had just recently lost a 2015 recruit to Penn State after a tumultuous offseason that included plenty of decommits for the 2014 class,” Poole said. “There was a lot of self-reflection happening on the online Rutgers message board at During that period of self-reflection there was a discussion over Twitter and whether or not we as fans had properly utilized it. In my mind, we never did utilize it to its full potential as there were only a few of us on Twitter, and those few of us were terribly disorganized. Schools much smaller than ours, such as Appalachian State, had organization on Twitter that allowed them to contact recruits quickly and effectively, something we were incapable of.

“So what finally got the ball rolling was when another Rivals message board poster posted that a recruit had directly told him that if used correctly Twitter does help the recruiting process, and therefore that we should finally embrace the medium. So I came up with the idea of using the hashtag of #CHOPNation and then asked for all of our fans’ Twitter handles. I started following all of them and told them to follow me, and the movement started from that.”

There are now roughly 75 to 100 Twitter followers actively using the hashtag, with more being added each week. They tweet encouragement at the players and let them know the Scarlet Knights fanbase wants to see them “On the Banks” next year.

It has caught on with those hoping to get offers. On the Friday before his unofficial visit to Rutgers in early March, recruit Alex Toplyn tweeted “Looking forward to my Rutgers visit tomorrow! #CHOPNation.”

Even the coaching staff has started to use the hashtag in their social media posts.

But while it has promise, it might not be there quite yet.

One of the players most targeted by #CHOPNation is Steven Gonzalez. A consensus four-star recruit out of Union City, N.J., Gonzalez has offers from many of the top programs in the nation. Before an unofficial visit in early March, he had Rutgers outside of his top 5 schools. But after a sit down with head coach Kyle Flood, he has Rutgers in his top 3.

Despite a healthy dose of #CHOPNation coming his way, he said the tweets don’t matter much. But, he also said they haven’t hurt his perception of the school either.

“It really hasn’t affected me at all, but it’s a cool new trend that Rutgers fans got going on. It’s cool but it has made no impact on me,” Gonzalez said. “I think the other recruits do notice these fans. And to me it kind of does make me look at the team but that’s not the main reason why I look at the team.”

It is a brand new world, one the NCAA is still coming to grips with.

Fans of major programs are now connected to recruits and would-be players through a click of the mouse. They are just a tweet or a Facebook invite away from having access to players and attempting to lure them to their alma mater.

It makes for a plethora of issues for the NCAA to work through. Twitter and fans reaching out to recruits is just one of those areas of concern.

“A fan can follow and reply to a current student-athlete on Twitter, and can tweet generally about a current student-athlete or team,” said Emily James, associate director of Public and Media Relations for the NCAA. “However, fans/boosters cannot tweet about a prospective student-athlete.”

In fact, NCAA regulations are clear about this. While #CHOPNation is likely not running afoul of the rules, it continues to be a part of college athletics that is changing along with technology.

The NCAA makes it clear that recruiting should only happen from boosters and not fans:

General Rule. All in-person, on- and off-campus recruiting contacts with a prospective student-athlete or the prospective student-athlete’s relatives or legal guardians shall be made only by authorized institutional staff members. Such contact, as well as correspondence and telephone calls, by representatives of an institution’s athletics interests is prohibited except as otherwise permitted in this section. Violations of this bylaw involving individuals other than a representative of an institution’s athletics interests shall be considered institutional violations per Constitution 2.8.1; however, such violations shall not affect the prospective student-athlete’s eligibility.

But for those like Poole, #CHOPNation will continue to be used to show recruits the Rutgers fanbase is behind the potential players. A season ago, what was a top-25 recruiting class disintegrated in the fall, with Rutgers losing seven recruits who were ranked as four stars by the major recruiting services. The hemorrhage of talent had to do with the team’s 6-6 regular season as much as issues with the coaching staff.

#CHOPNation hopes to stem that tide, one tweet at a time.

“To be honest there is very little concern over recruiting violations from a fan’s perspective. This use of Twitter is so prevalent that the NCAA apparently doesn’t want to open [a] Pandora’s Box with it,” Poole said. “They would have to go after every school. … I could see a scenario where if they did come down on schools for it you would start seeing fans of schools impersonating fans of a rival school to get them in trouble. So I don’t think the NCAA would want to go through with that as it would probably take up all their resources just to try and figure it out.”

Follow writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.


Newest java joint in bastion of hipness is…

Little may represent the change the neighborhood is undergoing right now like the arrival of the first Starbucks. The chain which is ubiquitous in Manhattan, opened a Williamsburg store at…


Black and white are the new orange at…

By Brendan O'Brien(Reuters) - Black and white are the new orange in a Michigan county where the sheriff has made a wardrobe change for jail…


Traps set after reports of giant snake on…

New Jersey animal control workers have set traps to snare a reported 20-foot-long serpent slithering through the waters of Lake Hopatcong.


NYPD: Stroller carrying 2-year-old rolls onto Queens subway…

A 2-year-old girl in a stroller rolled onto subway tracks in Queens on Monday morning, police said.


‘The Leftovers’ recap: Season 1, Episode 4, ‘B.J.…

Last week’s episode of “The Leftovers” was apparently a fluke, because this week’s episode returns to focusing on the Garveys and it is so boring.…


Interview: Luc Besson says 'Lucy' is very different…

Filmmaker Luc Besson talks about his new film "Lucy," how it's different than "Limitless" and his crazy first conversation with Egyptian actor Amr Waked.


Weezer releases first new song since 2010

Weezer releases "Back to the Shack," their first new song in almost six years.


Benedict Cumberbatch plays a different kind of genius…

The man known worldwide for his portrayal of London's eccentric private detective Sherlock Holmes is trading his Belstaff coat for tweed this fall. Benedict Cumberbatch…


'Vicktory dogs' travel road to rehabilitation seven years…

Of the dozens of dogs groomed by Bad Newz Kennels, 48 were rescued and 22 of the pit bull terriers have emerged at Best Friends Animal Society.


Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according…

Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according to report


Giants lineman Chris Snee to retire: Reports

The Giants report to training camp on Tuesday, but Chris Snee may not be there when they do.


Carmelo Anthony talks about his charity work in…

As he is used to doing every year, NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony is going to visit Puerto Rico to do work for his foundation.


RocketSkates let users roll with a motor

Los Angeles company Acton has raised funds on Kickstarter to roll out a nifty alternative – motor-powered "RocketSkates."


Knicks star Carmelo Anthony becomes a tech entrepreneur

He's been an All-Star, an Olympian, and a celebrity spokesperson. Now NBA player Carmelo Anthony is adding the position "tech entrepreneur" to his resume. Along…


Ulises 1 is the world's first singing satellite

A group of artists and engineers in Mexico have unveiled Ulises 1, the world's first opera-singing satellite.


Wallscape on a budget

Skip the wallpaper and ombre an accent wall instead.