Coach Flood, Rutgers fill needs and add depth

Rutgers’ final recruiting class for the Big East Conference

filled a major need in the secondary and added depth at running

back, the defensive line and quarterback, and even included a foray

into Big 10 territory.

Coach Kyle Flood announced the signing of 23 players on

Wednesday, including five who already have enrolled in classes and

will be eligible for spring practice.

In keeping with the tradition started by former coach Greg

Schiano, the majority of players came from New Jersey with the rest

coming from New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Florida. The new

venture was signing a linebacker from Michigan.

”As the head coach, I feel very comfortable saying that it

filled all of our needs,” Flood said at a press conference. ”I

think if I rewind myself to when I was a position coach, you always

want more. I think if you polled the assistant coaches, you’d find

they all want more. That’s just the nature of the job, but I feel

very good that we have filled all of the needs that I set out to

get before we got into this class. What I’m most excited about is I

feel like we have a bigger, faster team going forward.”

Flood didn’t seem to sign a can’t-miss star for Rutgers, which

went 9-4 last season, finishing tied for the conference title.

However, he believed he snared players who will fit well into the

program.

The key need was in the secondary, which lost five of the six

players who saw time.

Defensive backs Nadir Barnwell of Piscataway High, Anthony

Cioffi of Jonathan Drayton, Bryant Gross-Armiento of American

Heritage in Florida, Delon Stephenson, who spent last year at

Milford Academy, and T.J. Taylor of South Brunswick all will be

joining the Scarlet Knights.

Barnwell was rated the eighth-best player in New Jersey this

past season and might be the best of the bunch.

”We feel he is someone who can come in immediately and help us

in the secondary,” Flood said. ”He will have an opportunity to do

that. Now he did have a shoulder surgery after the season ended

that will allow him to participate in spring, but in a non-contact

fashion. He will do a lot of excellent learning and really get

accumulated to the types of drills we do here. But the contact

portion he will not get until the fall. That’s when he will really

get the opportunity to compete.”

With Jawan Jamison’s decision to enter the NFL Draft, Savon

Huggins was the only tested running back on the roster.

Dontea Ayres of Wicomico High in Delaware, Devan Carter of

Brighton High in Rochester, N.Y. and Justin Goodwin of Madison

(N.J.) will get a chance to play next season.

While quarterbacks Gary Nova and Chas Dodd are back, Flood has

hopes for Chris Laviano, a four-year starter for Holy Trinity on

Long Island. Flood, after all, played in the same league as a

youth.

”I am very familiar with the league Chris played in and because

of that, it did not take long for people from there to tell me that

we needed to recruit this young man,” Flood said. ”That started

at a young age and Chris led Holy Trinity to the Catholic League

championship game as a freshman. I don’t know if that feat has been

repeated or has been done before. He is a special football

player.”

Rutgers secured a plethora of defensive linemen, including

tackle Josh Klecko, the son of former Jets’ great, Joe Klecko.

Other linemen signed included defensive ends Nick Internicola of

The University School in Florida; Kemoko Turay of Barrington in

Newark, Eric Wiafe of Egg Harbor Township and defensive tackle

Sebastian Joseph of Stroudsburg (Pa.) High.

Turay might be the most interesting signee. He did not play as a

sophomore or junior and then led the state with 19 sacks as a

senior.

”I think he is a dynamic athlete and an explosive athlete,”

Flood said. ”He spent most of his career in high school playing

basketball and then came back this year to play football. I am

really excited about what he is going to be. He is somebody that

when he reaches his full potential, I think he could be a

tremendous pass rusher and somebody that will be able to change the

game at the defensive end position.”

Lester Liston of Grand Blanc, Mich., is a linebacker who spent

last season at Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy. He was rated the

No. 16 prep school player in the nation and the No. 3 prep school

linebacker by Rivals.com.

The one area Rutgers came up short was on the offensive line,

signing only Dorian Miller of Metuchen.

”He is physical, aggressive, strong and an inside player,”

Flood said. ”From looking at him from a strength perspective now,

he is someone that should be able to come in an add depth at an

early age.

”I think that position is tough to play early, but we have had

a couple.”