Rutgers Football: Latest Recruits Need to Fill Void Left by Graduating Seniors

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Rutgers Football: Latest Recruits Need to Fill Void Left by Graduating Seniors
Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

With a disappointing end to what was dubbed "The Year of the Flood" under their first-year coach, the Scarlet Knights now begin the process of evaluating a late-season collapse that saw them drop four of their last six games. While the team finished with a 9-4 mark, the Scarlet Knights ended the season with a three-game losing streak, including a defeat in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

Without question, the highlight of the Scarlet Knights' 2012 campaign was their defense, but after this season, the program loses a tremendous amount of its veteran leadership. Rutgers will move into next year with the loss of defensive linemen Scott Vallone, Marvin Booker and Ka'Lial Glaud, linebackers Khaseem Greene and Steve Beauharnais, and defensive backs Marcus Cooper, Duron Harmon, Brandon Jones, Mason Robinson and Wayne Warren.

In addition, the breaking news that All-American junior cornerback Logan Ryan has now announced that he will make himself eligible for the NFL Draft delivers yet another blow to the Scarlet Knights’ defense. Joe Schad of ESPN reports that Ryan is projected as the third-best cornerback in the upcoming draft by Scouts Inc.

On offense, Rutgers will lose linemen Devon Watkis and R.J. Dill, wide receivers Tim Wright and Mark Harrison, tight ends D.C. Jefferson and Beau Bachety and punter Justin Doerner.

Four recent late-year recruits, all of whom are three and four-star prospects (according to Scout.com), now brings the total number of Rutgers commitments for 2013 to 22. The Scarlet Knights had hit a recruiting drought for over two months (since the verbal commitment given by cornerback Nadir Barnwell in September), but between Nov. 20 and Dec. 11 four players have pledged to Rutgers, including:

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Dorian Miller (4-star): guard. A local product from Metuchen, N.J., Miller is 6'3", 285 pounds, and may be the replacement for Dill on the offensive line. Miller also saw time at defensive line in high school, and chose Rutgers despite offers from high-profile programs like Georgia Tech and Tennessee. "[N]ow that Rutgers is in the Big Ten, that was the icing on the cake," Miller told Todderick Hunt of NJ.com. "That showed me it was meant to be."

 Andre Patton (3-star): wide receiver. A prospect from the neighboring state of Delaware, the 6'4" 180-pound recruit eschewed offers from eight other schools, including Iowa, Purdue and West Virginia. Along with fellow WR recruit John Tsimis, Patton may help to ease the loss of Wright and Harrison. "They had a great season," said Patton about the 2012 Scarlet Knights (as reported by Todderick Hunt of NJ.com). "It may not have ended the way they wanted, but we are going to come back even stronger next year and win these kinds of games."

Dean Crozier (3-star): punter. A pickup from St. Peter's College, Crozier hails from Australia, and the Scarlet Knights hope that the 6'7", 240-pound punter proves a more than ample replacement for graduating Justin Doerner. "It's the coaches, people and players that really make that organization welcoming," Crozier said of his decision (as reported by Matt Hladik of ScarletNation.com), "and make it a place that I want to go."

Skai Moore (3-star): linebacker. At 6'3" and 210 pounds, the Florida native is an imposing presence at linebacker who reportedly had offers from 16 other schools, including Mississippi, Ohio State, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Moore will join fellow recruits Lester Liston, Nick Internicola and Myles Nash to vie for one of the positions vacated by graduating seniors Greene and Beauharnais. "I'm going to work as hard as I can and contribute to the team as soon as possible," Moore told Todderick Hunt of NJ.com during a recent interview, "and I plan on winning championships at Rutgers, so be ready!"

For fans and followers, the biggest concern for the Scarlet Knights may be at quarterback. Gary Nova's game performances from the season's start to the finish resembled a bell curve, with the sophomore QB finishing as poorly as he began. In his final six games of the season, Nova threw just seven touchdown passes while surrendering 12 interceptions to the opponents. Despite his late-season fade and his latest lackluster performance against Virginia Tech, Gary Nova still has the backing of head coach Kyle Flood.

"I’m confident in Gary as our starting quarterback," said Flood in response to questions about Nova as next season's starter (as reported by Steve Politi of The Star-Ledger on NJ.com). Whether or not coach Flood's belief remains constant will be something to watch once incoming freshman quarterback recruit Chris Laviano arrives in camp for 2013.

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