The new Rutgers staff hosted over 100 recruits Saturday for their first junior day on the banks. Although the visit is still in progress fro recruits who chose to attend Rutgers’ Mens’ basketball game against Ohio State at the RAC, many prospects are returning home.
Notes: Throughout the junior day proceedings, Rutgers extended offers to Cedar Grove (N.J.) wide receiver Evidence Njoku, Mater Dei (Middletown, N.J.) wide receiver Eddie Lewis and Greater Johnstown (Pa.) cornerback Exree Loe, who is currently committed to Pitt. And according to Richie Schnyderite of Rutgers.247Sports.com, the Knights received a preferred walk-on commitment Saturday from kicker Jared Smolar of Valparaiso (Ind.).
We will follow-up in-depth with many of the visitors throughout the next couple weeks. But in the meantime, check out a few quick reactions from some of today’s visitors:
Naijee Jones, CB, Timber Creek (Rutgers commit): “It was great and the staff were good as always. We talked big on education, changing the tradition and life beyond football. I got to sit in on a DB meeting with coach Henry and it was great. Coach Henry is my guy and I already learned a lot from him. The message for today was “what would Jersey’s roster look like if Jersey athletes stayed in Jersey.” I tried and will continue to do my part and get the other top recruits in the area on board. And I hung with Harrison Hand and Everett Wormly the most.”
Eddie Lewis, WR, Mater Dei (new offeree): “It was a great experience. I had a fun time with the coaches and the other top prospects. Today really made it hard as me and my parents are going to start the process of thinking about what school is best for me.”
Evidence Njoku, WR, Cedar Grove (new offeree): “It’s like they are all hungry for the same goal and that is to be successful. Also coach Jafar Williams, I spoke with him for about 10 minutes and I think he is the type of coach an athlete can really develop a bond with. He was the one that gave me the scholarship and I feel like he’s a good guy. I also talked to my boy Bo Melton for a little bit when we linked up. He’s a savage on the field and I feel like me and him can do big things.”
Fred Hansard, DT, The Hun: “The coaching staff was what really stood out to me. They are really onto something. I hung out with the creek boys and Camden boys and Ev(erett Wormley) and Adam Conyer, Drew Price and Bo Melton. Talked to my position coach and coach Ash a lot. They made it extremely clear that they wanted me and I would be a huge addition to the program.”
Corey Bolds, DT, Paramus Catholic: “I completely love the whole new staff. I feel like they’re doing great things in a positive way to become a prominent force in the Big Ten. I hung out with Micah for a while. They were really trying to emphasize on how if everybody stays home like players stay home in other states like Ohio, we would become a national championship contender down the road.”
Bo Melton, WR, Cedar Creek: “Rutgers was a great experience and they showed how much they loved me and my boy Owen Bowles. And also, coach Williams and coach Kuhr showed that they really wanted me. I hung with Markquese Bell, Owen Bowles, Fred Hansard, Josh Daids and Everett Wormley.”
Owen Bowles, DT, Cedar Creek: “Overall, it was a great experience. Me and Bo Melton’s car pulled up and I hung out with him most of the time. The best aspect of the whole thing, however, was the energy and quality of the coaches. They just preached a lot of things that I agreed with and I believe in. They also want me to get up to the campus more to experience more of it.”
Mike Tverdov, DE, Union: “As soon as I got there, I just felt a different type of vibe. No disrespect to the old staff because those guys were good, but there is a different feeling around that place. It is full of positive energy. Coach Ash and his staff really care about their players and want to get them in the best shape possible to be great football players and great people in general. The new nutrition and strength program really blew me away. To know that I could possibly have a coach like Kenny Parker in college to train me would be crazy. That guy will turn you into a machine and give you the mental toughness of a Navy seal. Other than that, I spoke with coach Burnham, Vallone, Ash, and Niemann. They all believe I am a very tough kid with a high motor and they want to continue to build the relationship with me.”
Robert Martin, OT, St. Joseph (Mont.): “I had a great time at Rutgers junior day today. Coach Ash had a clear message to everyone. He believes that if every star player in New Jersey played at Rutgers for their home state, we would be phenomenal. I mostly hung out with Dayln Wade-Perry and Owen Drexel. I had been hanging out with Coach A.J. a lot too and having great talks with him. I was absolutely treated like a king and I am very thankful for the hospitality of the Rutgers coaching staff.”
Kenny Pickett, QB, Ocean Township: “Today went great, I got a chance to hear Coach Ash’s plans for the program and where he sees it going in the future. I was with my family and got a chance to hang with Micah Clark, Eddie Lewis, Jordan Scott, Mike Ruane, and Jamal Beatty. I talked to Coach Ash, Coach Mehringer, and Coach Burnham. Coach Ash said he loved my film and wants me to come back to RU during the spring for a practice and get a chance to spend more time with him and his staff.”
Everett Wormley, WR, Burlington Township: “What stood out to me was obviously the change in coaching. You can already start to feel the culture change and how they do things and what the stand for. I feel confident that RU will be a Big Ten powerhouse very soon. I hung out with my SJ gang. Najee and the TC crew, Fred Hansard, Markquese Bell are the notable guys along with others. And I was around coach Williams a lot. He had me come up earlier in the morning to get some one-on-one time with him. And I also spent a good amount of time talking to Coach Ash. Both of them checked on me throughout the day and coach Williams ate lunch with my family as well. Both of them just emphasized me staying home, the change of culture and how important getting me would be for the program & class of 17.”
Jahmin Muse, WR, Elizabeth: “It’s unbelievable the things he has in mind for the program.”
Johnathan Lewis, QB, St. Peter’s Prep: “The Rutgers visit was great. Coach Ash talks a lot about what he has done with the program with the short time he has been there. He has changed the nutrition, the lifting station and other facilities. I mainly hung out with my friends from prep and the ones I grew up playing with like Drew Singleton, Josh Feds, Rajohn Jones. The coaches said that I can be a big key for the new offense and that staying home and repping Jersey can be great.”
Carter Warren, OT, Passaic Tech: “I had an amazing day. Very impressed with Coach Ash’s presentation. What really stood out was him talking about putting together a program for life after college. I thought that was pretty cool.”
Owen Drexel, OL, Montclair: “Had a great time looking at the facilities and meeting the coaching staff. Coach Ash is a great guy and doing great things for the program. I plan on getting back over soon. I hung out with one of my best friends Robbie Martin. We had a great time.”
Ezrah Archie, ATH, Timber Creek: “What stood out to me the most today was the way Coach Ash and his staff have immediately came in and flipped the program around. First, their push toward overall self-success, as in every single player’s health, education, performance, and life after football really amazed me. Second, the way they are enhancing their buildings, locker room, weight room and food program to make sure players are getting the full experience out of their football program and university also impressed me a lot. Thirdly, the staff in general, as in their personalities, knowledge, compatibility with the players, and push to build a big time program based off home bread, east coast/N.J. players, striving for major goals like championships, made me feel right at home. While I was up there, I hung with most of my South Jersey friends and teammates. Lots of names but to touch base on the ones that are well known by the Rutgers program, I hung with my quarterback Devin Leary, Rutgers commit Naijee Jones, and Rutgers offerees Bo Melton, Fred Hansford, Markquese Bell, And Everett Wormly. The Coach I hung with the most was Coach Rafar Williams who will actually be my position coach this upcoming season and I absolutely love the guy. Lastly, many coaches just expressed to me that they know about me and love my size, weight, personality, and film. In which, to keep grinding and keep in contact and my process with the program will go from there.”
Donald Glenn, QB, Middletown North: “It was amazing. Coach Ash is an amazing guy and is going to change the program around big-time. I loved the whole staff. I was mostly hanging with my boys from Middletown South like James McCarthy, Kevin Higgins, Jeremy Joyce and Maxx Imsho. The quarterbacks coach told me he wants me to come down during spring practice to talk one-on-one and get to know me more and the recruiting coordinator is coming to school soon to talk.”
Bartek Rybka, DE, Paramus Catholic: “Rutgers junior day was just different. The second you walked in the door you received a nice warm welcome. The coaches were just incredible. Coach Burnham my recruiting coach just makes his presence felt instantly. He’s so welcoming and just makes it clear how much he wants you. This will be a national championship competing team if coach Ash really gets things going the way he plans to. It’s an awesome program, now. I totally love how they keep preaching to keep N.J. players home.”
Tommy Devito, QB, Don Bosco: “I was really impressed with Rutgers. Coach Ash is clearly in charge and I love what he is going to do with Rutgers. They haven’t offered me but if they did, I do not have a reason why I would not go there.”
Elijah Singh, WR, Don Bosco: “Honestly, what stood out to me was the approach that the Coach Ash and the rest of the coaching staff are taking. Seems like Rutgers is going to put together a program that will be competing for national championships in due time. I mainly hung around my Bosco teammates but also kids like Corey Bolds, Drew Singleton, Jordan Scott, and kids from my hometown in Montclair. I really didn’t get to sit down with any coaches but they were all very welcoming and I’m more than likely going to be attending the spring game as well as camp.”
Michael Ruane, LB, Rumson Fair-Haven: “The thing that stood out to me was the changes that Rutgers is making, not only with the coaches changing but with the way they do things. I think the talent in N.J. will stay in N.J. now with Ash at head coach. I was with mostly Tim Learnd, a highly recruit-able o-lineman, and Kenny Pickett, a very good quarterback in the shore, maybe the best. Also, Donald Glenn, a very talented quarterback in the shore as well, and James McCarthy, a very talented running back and linebacker for Middletown South. And I was with coach Jay Niemann most of the day, the linebackers coach for the new changed RU.”
Liam Fornadel, OL, Don Bosco: “The coaches’ philosophy and the changes that they are making seem to be very beneficial to the student-athletes. I hung out with my teammates from Bosco, and the other o-linemen. I talked to a lot of the offensive coaches, mainly coach Blazek.”
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Salem: “The junior day was great, coach Ash is making a change. And the great part about it is that it’s happening fast. One thing that really stood out to me was coach Ash’s emphasis on that it’s not just him that can increase the program, it’s us as student-athletes. I hung out with coach Zak Kuhr and he is loads of fun, but he also let us know that he can tighten up once it’s grind time.”
Ben Petrula, OL, St. Peter’s Prep: “The junior day was a lot of fun. It showed a lot about how the program is changing. The culture of the Rutgers football program has changed completely. The coaches have great energy about the rebuild and they believe that they can bring RU a championship. I was really just hanging with my teammates. I think we had eight guys there, which is great. The coaches really just said they want to build a good relationship with me over the next year and they want to get me up to RU a few more times.”
Jordan Scott, ATH, St. Joseph (Mont.): “I loved everything about Rutgers today. It was everything you’d want in a college. I didn’t speak to Coach Ash but you could hear how passionate he was when he spoke about turning the program around. He preached on academics, football, and keeping N.J. talent in N.J. I hung out with the Paramus Catholic kids the most. They’re pretty funny. I spoke to Coach Hewitt the most, though. He watched my film recently and told me that he loved my game. I also really like the new wide receivers coach, coach Williams. You can tell he’s also very serious about his job. He let us know everything he’s about. He didn’t sugar coat anything and that’s what I like in a coach. Overall, it was great to get up there with the new staff. You can tell there’s going to be some major changes.”
Jamaal Beaty, OL, St. John Vianney: “My Rutgers junior day visit, I liked it a lot. And I think their program is on the right path and on the rise in the Big Ten. I talked to a lot of coaches today. They made me feel welcomed and I spent the most time with coach Blazek, coach Ash and coach Burnham. And the one thing that stood out the most to me was when coach Blazek talked to me one-on-one and said he was in the same boat as me — telling me he was waiting on a school to take a chance on me and that he will never let them down.
Louis Acceus, LB, St. Joseph (Mont.): “It was an amazing experience. As soon as I got there, they welcomed me with open arms as if I was one of their players. I hung out with my teammate but had some conversations with players from other schools. And I spoke to coach Niemann the most while I was at Rutgers.”
Harrison Hand, CB, Cherry Hill-West: “What stood out to me was the academic set-up for the students, the strength and conditioning coach and the defensive scheme for the DBs. I really didn’t hang out with any recruits, but I was talking with Naijee Jones, a DB commit to Rutgers. All the coaches showed love and talked to me, especially Coach Henry.”
Be sure to check back here as multiple impressions will be added throughout the day.