Rutgers expands recruiting reach
Tuesday, May 20, 2008 BY TOM LUICCI
As a youngster growing up in New York City, Andre Civil said the only real college football presence that he was aware of was Penn State. Occasionally he heard about Syracuse, but never about Rutgers.
That began to change a few years ago, said the defensive end from Sheepshead Bay High School in Brooklyn.
"All of a sudden you started hearing a lot about Rutgers and not all that much about Penn State," Civil said.
Rutgers' growing recruiting influence in two former Penn State strongholds -- New York City and eastern Pennsylvania -- continued yesterday and could as well today. Civil, a 6-3, 240-pounder, gave Rutgers a verbal commi
tment yesterday, with the likelihood that tight end Paul Carrezola of Neshaminy (Pa.) High School will do the same today when he announces his college decision at a press conference.
"Rutgers is definitely expanding its recruiting base, especially in New York," said recruiting expert Mike Farrell of Rivals.com. "It helps when you've gotten guys like Brian Leonard and Ray Rice. You can definitely use that. Eastern Pennsylvania has always been Penn State country -- until a few years ago. Now Rutgers is going in there and getting players that Penn State might normally get. That's impressive."
If the 6-3, 250-pound Carrezola chooses Rutgers over Pittsburgh, North Carolina State and Iowa today, it will mean four of the five players who have given head coach Greg Schiano commitments for 2009 are from either eastern Pennsylvania or New York City.
The Knights previously received commitments from highly rated quarterback Tom Savage of Cardinal O'Hara High School in Springfield, Pa. and from 6-6, 300-pound offensive lineman Jamal Wilson of South Shore High School in Brooklyn.
"The Rutgers coaches are really getting into New York now," said Civil. "I see that and I hear it from guys I talk to."
When Schiano originally outlined his recruiting plans for the "State of Rutgers," he said it included New Jersey, Florida and destinations within a two- to three-hour drive in any direction from Piscataway. But until recently, New Jersey and Florida had been supplying the Knights with most of their talent.
Since the beginning of 2007, however, Rutgers has signed offensive linemen Caleb Ruch of Quakertown, Pa., and Richard Muldrow of York, Pa. Ruch, a redshirt freshman, is listed as the starter at right guard for the fall.
The recent New York talent haul has included defensive tackle Scott Vallone of Central Islip and offensive lineman Devon Watkis of Coram. Both will be among the incoming freshmen this fall.
In addition, wide receiver Keith Stroud enrolled at Rutgers in January after spending a year at a prep school, but played his high school football at Fort Hamilton High in Brooklyn.
"It's something the Rutgers coaches had to do because you can't win a national championship just with kids from New Jersey," said Farrell. "Rutgers has a geographical advantage in New York and eastern Pennsylvania and they're starting to utilize that advantage. New York, especially, should be an extension of New Jersey for them. Eastern Pennsylvania is different because Penn State has been so strong there for so long. But Rutgers is getting some good players from there now."
Civil, whose strengths are his quickness and athleticism, said he had offers from Georgia Tech, Clemson, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Connecticut and Hofstra. Civil is among the 472 high school seniors (Savage is another) to be nominated to the 2009 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Ninety will be chosen to play in the Jan. 3 game in San Antonio.
Tom Luicci may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.