In an off-season that has left fans with no sports to watch, fans have instead been able to watch recruits flock to the Rutgers football team.
Head football coach Greg Schiano has also rebuilt a coaching staff, hiring coaches he previously worked with as well as other coaches with college and NFL experience. Several members of the staff followed Schiano at various points in his career, including offensive line coach Andrew Aurich and defensive coordinator Robb Smith.
Since making his return to the Scarlet Knights, Schiano and his staff have brought in recruits from high school as well as transfers from other universities. Schiano hit the ground running in his first couple months, and turned the 102nd-best recruiting class in the country into the 64th, according to 247sports.com.
Recruits like wide receiver Chris Long and cornerback Malachi Melton highlight the incoming class. The familiarity of Rutgers drew Malachi Melton to play on the Banks. His brother, junior wide receiver Bo Melton, is entering his senior season for the Knights.
"I know the whole wide receiver corps, they are all great guys," Malachi Melton said in an interview with Scarlet Nation. "I know the quarterbacks, I have close connections up there. They are all cool guys."
Malachi Melton owns a 4.70-second 40-yard dash time and a 34.9-inch vertical.
Living locally has played a role in a number of recruits' minds as a dozen members of the Class of 2020 are from New Jersey. Long turned down offers from several schools, including Duke and Baylor, to play for his state school.
Although not from New Jersey and never having officially visited Rutgers prior to signing, quarterback Peyton Powell has finally found a school to settle in to after de-committing from several colleges. Powell is certainly not alone in the Garden State as his cousin is New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard.
Powell is also familiar with the Knights' coaching staff. Both Schiano and secondary coach Fran Brown gave Powell offers while they were at other universities. After committing to Texas, Powell ended up committing to the Bears, where Brown was coaching, but before he was able to take a snap, he de-committed and then committed to Utah.
Finally, Schiano secured the speedy quarterback. Due to the long process of Powell coming to Piscataway, reminiscent of a ride on the H bus through Busch, he is waiting on a waiver from the NCAA granting him four years of eligibility.
Powell possesses a 4.45-second 40-yard dash as well as a 4.25-second shuttle run and is ready to step onto the field. "I am just looking forward to a new start and a place to showcase my abilities," Powell said in an interview with 247sports.com.
Among the seven transfers, three are coming from Big Ten schools.Graduate transfer defensive tackle Malik Barrow comes to Rutgers after a brief stint at the University of Central Florida, but played for Schiano while at Ohio State. Injuries have plagued Barrow, but playing with his former coach has the opportunity to bring some stability.
Thinking about the future, Schiano and his staff have put together the 12th-best recruiting Class of 2021, according to 247sports.com. Signing four-star outside linebacker Khayri Banton within the last week has shown the caliber of player this Knights program is looking for. Banton weighs in at 220 pounds but has been described as being, "explosive at the snap," by national recruiting analyst Brian Dohn.
Rutgers will have its first test when it opens the season against Monmouth on Sept. 5 at SHI Stadium in Piscataway.
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