In 2014, Rutgers will join the Big Ten, and with the expectation of a higher level of competition,the Scarlet Knights have begun securing talent for the first season in their new conference. The Knights have already secured 10 commitments from five different states, comprised of four defensive recruits and six on offense.
Those already secured for the 2014 recruiting class include:
Saquan Hampton—S—The 6'2", 185-pound N.J. product is evaluated as a 2-star prospect by Rivals.com, and was recruited by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Penn State.
Zack Heeman—OT—Pursued by Maryland and Penn State, the 6'7" N.J. prospect committed to Rutgers on March 15. Rivals.com rates Heeman as a 2-star recruit.
Justin Herron—OG—The 2-star (Rivals.com) prospect is a Maryland native, and despite pursuit by the Terrapins and offers from Boston College and Connecticut, the 6'5", 285-pound lineman chose the Scarlet Knights on May 16.
Josh Hicks—RB—A 3-star prospect from Florida, the 6'0", 175-pound running back reportedly had low-level interest in both Cincinnati and USF, but committed to Rutgers in October, 2012
Pete Mokwuah—DT—Spurning offers from Connecticut and Pittsburgh, the 6'5", 305-pound prospect from Staten Island, N.Y. committed to Rutgers in May, 2013.
Justin Nelson—DE/LB—A number of high-profile programs pursued the 6'1" LB/DE, including Georgia Tech, Miami (Fla), Penn State, South Carolina, UCLA and West Virginia. But recruiter Dave Cohen got a commitment from the Wayne, N.J. native on February 27. Rivals.com lists his 40-yard dash time as 4.7 for this 3-star prospect.
David Njoku—WR—Following in the recent mold of Rutgers receivers, Njoku is tall, standing 6'4" and 215 pounds. Despite pursuit by Ohio State and Penn State and an offer from Boston College, the Cedar Grove, N.J. product chose to stay home, committing to the Scarlet Knights on April 9. He is ranked as a 3-star prospect.
Jacquis Webb—OG—Despite offers from Old Dominion and Buffalo, the 6'4", 290-pound lineman chose Rutgers for his commitment in 2014. Per Rivals.com, Webb bench pressed 285 pounds and runs a 5.4 second 40-yard dash.
Tyler Wiegers—QB—The Scarlet Knights have identified several QB prospects on their recruiting list, but the first one that committed was the 6'3", 195-pound Wiegers from Beverly Hills, MI. While Michigan is not usually fertile recruiting ground for Rutgers, this 3-star prospect may be the first dividend from the move to the Big Ten.
The program appears to be moving forward with recruiting thanks to continued success on the football field, but there is no question that the move to the Big Ten will also help to secure future players. The Scarlet Knights are banking on the opportunity to play Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin in 2014 to convince some fence-sitting recruits that Rutgers can get them the exposure and experience they need to graduate to the NFL.