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News, insights and analysis on the Rutgers football program

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Two new assistants

I wrote this for today's Trentonian, but it didn't make it online, so here it is: 
Rutgers added two assistant coaches yesterday, filling out Greg Schiano’s staff after the Scarlet Knights lost two assistants at the end of the 2007 season.
 Ed Pinkham will be a defensive assistant and Chris Rippon will serve as special teams coordinator, filling two spots that were vacated when former associate head coach and special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi left to become the head coach at Rhode Island and running backs coach Craig Ver Steeg left to become an assistant with the Baltimore Ravens
“I enjoyed my years of coaching with Darren and Craig and wish them the best in their future endeavors,” Schiano said in a statement. “At the same time, I am excited for Ed and Chris to join our staff. I have known both men for many years and they are a perfect fit for our program.”
Pinkham, from Clark, spent the last 12 seasons as the defensive coordinator at Division I-AA Colgate and the last two as associate head coach.
 “I enjoyed the success we had during my time at Colgate, but I am excited about the challenge of coaching in one of the top conferences in the nation in the Big East and at Rutgers,” Pinkham said.
Rippon, from Lincoln Park, spent the last three seasons as the special teams coordinator at Mississippi after serving as the defensive coordinator at Syracuse from 1999-2003.
  “When you look back at Greg’s tenure, and see what he has accomplished, the excitement and enthusiasm that surrounds the program, it’s great to be a part of that,” Rippon said.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Signing Day

Yesterday was national signing day, and Rutgers inked 20 player to letters of intent. West Windsor South's J.B. Fitzgerald, the Gatorade New Jersey player of the year, was not among those players. After making an official visit to Rutgers and seriously considering staying in his home state, he decided to honor his verbal commitment to Michigan. 
Legendary Trentonian high school writer George O'Gorman was at J.B.'s press conference (at which J.B. was appropriately dressed in maize and blue)  and wrote the cover story in today's paper. 
I was at Rutgers, where I wrote this story about the Knights' class, which was rated third in the Big East by both and and 46th and 44th, respectively, by those sites. 
Greg Schiano was most pleased with the number of skill position players (particularly wide receivers and defensive backs) who are exceptionally tall. 
Eight players in the class play one of those positions and four of them are 6-3 or taller, including wide receivers Keith Stroud and Timothy Wright. 
Last year's emphasis was on limeman, with the prize recruit being Anthony Davis. This year, there aren't a lot of linemen, but Schiano is justified in saying the ones the Knights did sign are very good. rates three of Rutgers' 20 players as four-star recruits, and two of them are linemen: 6-8 offensive tackle Art Forst ("one of the biggest human beings you've seen," Schiano said) and defensive tackle Scott Vallone. 
Schiano said it's too early to tell if any of these players will be next year's version of Davis or safety Joe Lefeged and make an impact immediately. He said there are two many factors in the mix, including how mentally and emotionally adjusted these kids are in there first couple of months away from home. But it is worth noting that Rutgers had to replace three starters on the offensive line and one on the defensive line, and from a talent standpoint, both Forst and Vallone are probably good enough to play right away. 

Friday, February 1, 2008

This blog is back from the dead....and J.B. Fitzgerald might be going to Rutgers

OK, so you've probably figured out by now -- almost a month after the game -- that Rutgers did, indeed, beat Ball State in the International Bowl.
You're probably also aware that Ray Rice made a mockery of the Cardinals' defense in that game and then subsequently announced it had been his last in a Rutgers unfiform.
You've figured all this out despite the fact that this blog has not once been updated during that time period. So I apologize for the big time delay and hope if you're reading this, you'll tell any friends who read it during football season that the blog has been revitalized, at least in so much as there is soemthing to blog about.
Which brings me to my point: I took a little break from basketball (have you seen my college basketball blog? I update that one every day. Seriously!) and wrote a story about J.B. Fitzgerald, the highly-touted outside linebacker from West Windsor, New Jersey.
Fitzgerald initially committed to Michigan and has not yet reneged on that commitment, despite the coaching change that took place when Lloyd Carr retired and was replaced by Rich Rodriguez.
Now though, there's a chance Fitzgerald will reconsider and go to Rutgers, which has pursued him aggressively for several months and which dispatched a helicopter to a Pirates game in September so Greg Schiano could watch him play.
I talked yesterday to WW-P South coach Todd Smith, who told me Fitzgerald is having a tough time deciding between the two schools.
Fitzgerald went on an official visit to Rutgers last weekend and is on his way to Ann Arbor this weekend for an unofficial visit.
NCAA rules permit players to only go on one official visit to each school. Essentially, that means the school can only pay to host a recruit once. If the recruit wants to come back a second or third time, its on his dime (no rhyme intended). Fitzgerald had already made an official visit to Michigan to meet with Carr and his staff, so the U of M can't pay for this visit.
According to Smith, Fitzgerald has had plenty of contact with Rodriguez and his assistants, including more than one house call made by Rich Rod to Fitzgerald's house in West Windsor. He said Fitzgerald really likes Rodriguez, but he also said he really likes and respects Greg Schiano and everything he's seen at Rutgers.
National signing day is Wednesday, so we'll know fairly soon what Fitzgerald's decision is.