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Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Is Rutgers' class good enough for Big Ten?

By Andrea Adelson

Rutgers is going to wind up with the top recruiting class in the Big East once again.

But Rutgers is not recruiting for the Big East anymore. It is recruiting for the Big Ten, where it hopes to begin play in 2014. So the obvious question is whether this class has laid a strong enough foundation for the program moving forward. We will not know the answer for quite some time.

What we do know: This is a good class. Not a great class. And certainly not a home-run class, which is what Rutgers got with its top-25 group in 2012. Several top in-state prospects got away -- only 11 in the class are from New Jersey.

Rutgers lost out on a few guys on signing day, too -- three-star linebacker Skai Moore chose South Carolina; New Jersey native Damon Mitchell, a three-star athlete, signed with Arkansas.

But the Scarlet Knights also picked up two ESPN 300 prospects -- quarterback Chris Laviano and athlete Nadir Barnwell, both already enrolled. In all, they got four four-star athletes, slightly fewer than the six who signed in 2012.

Still, Rutgers currently ranks No. 36 in the ESPN RecruitingNation class rankings. That would place the Scarlet Knights No. 7 in the Big Ten.

Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said during his signing day news conference in New Jersey that the recruiting philosophy this year did not change with the impending move to the Big Ten. The program continues to emphasize recruiting the Northeast and Florida. Of the 22 players signed this year, 21 are from that area.

What changed was having certainty. No more questions about conference stability.

"To me, when you go out to recruit, the first thing you have to do is identify the players that can help you win the national championship, because that’s the first thing you see and the first thing you really know is what they look like as a player," Flood said. "Once you get that group of players, you have to identify that ones that have the core values that you’re looking for in a person and the ones that are right for your university.

"What the Big Ten does for us is it eliminates questions. Before that, I think we had to answer some questions about what was going to happen in the future. All of those questions have been eliminated. We’re going to be playing in the premier athletic and academic conference in all of college sports. We couldn’t be more excited about doing that. It has not changed our approach, but what it has done is it has kind of streamlined some of the questions that we have had to answer when you’re getting to know a recruit.”