It looked like Rutgers football was heading toward an ugly U-turn when Greg Schiano announced he was ending his 11-year stint with the program to become head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Recruits talked about jumping ship, but as the faxes began pouring in to the team’s facilities on national signing day yesterday, it was clear that the tide had turned again.
Head coach Kyle Flood, who had officially been on the job less than 48 hours secured the commitment of three top recruits. Five-star defensive end Darius Hamilton of Don Bosco Prep announced his commitment Tuesday on live TV while three-star athlete Jevon Tyree of South Brunswick and Maryland three-star wide receiver Ian Thomas were surprise decisions on yesterday morning.
“Every year we’ve been able to — more and more — build that wall around the ‘State of Rutgers,’ so that the players in our area are coming to play for us — the top players,” Flood said.
“And when a guy like Darius Hamilton does that on TV, what it does is it gives more validity to what we tell the people in this local area. Nineteen of our 20 signees in this class are from the ‘State of Rutgers.’”
It was a masterful job of recruiting by Flood, to not only keep together the program’s best ever recruiting class — losing just one recruit — but to in fact build on in it with the additions of Hamilton and others. Rutgers closed out national signing day with a 3.26-star ranking according to Rivals.com, good for No. 21 in the nation. The strong finish was good enough to end up just three slots behind LSU and ahead of perennially ranked programs such as South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin in the recruiting rankings.
“The first [thing] that we sell at Rutgers football isn’t Kyle Flood. The first thing that we sell is Rutgers football. The second thing that we sell is Rutgers University. Both of those are made up of people and I am one of those people,” Flood said.
» Erasmus Hall cornerback Wayne Morgan out of Brooklyn committed to Syracuse. Ranked No. 5 in the state according to Rivals.com, Morgan also had offers from Penn State and Boston College. A number of schools cooled in their interest after poor showings in combines exposed a lack of vertical speed.
» Devon Fuller, whose Old Tappan team fell just short in the New Jersey state sectional championship, committed to UCLA on Wednesday. The athlete was told he’d be given a shot at quarterback with the Bruins, despite impressing at wide receiver at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Fuller was a strong Rutgers lean until Schiano left for the NFL and the fact that his uncle is the comedian Sinbad perhaps played a role in his move to Los Angeles.
» Underrated New York offensive lineman Sean Karl of Manorville on Long Island committed to play for Virginia.
Follow Rutgers beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.