NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Nate Harris says more and more players from football fertile New Jersey will be staying here to play at Rutgers now that Greg Schiano has returned to coach the team.
And, Harris should know.
The New Brunswick High School head football coach played on three victorious bowl teams under Schiano after earning an academic scholarship to Rutgers University and walking on to the football team.
He said that when Schiano walks into the living room of a high-profile recruit, he brings a lot of credibility with him.
Harris says that when your resume says you were head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you prepared players such as offensive tackle Anthony Davis and running back Ray Rice to become stars in the NFL and you were once hired to be a defensive coordinator by six-time Super Bowl champion head coach Bill Belichick, four-star recruits tend to sit up and take notice.
"He's been at the highest pedestals that gave him that experience to build relationships with Jersey guys who have options go to Pitt or to go to Temple or to go to some of the schools down south," Harris said. "I think he will relate to them as a Jersey guy and being able to say, 'I helped prepare guys get where you want to go.'"
Schiano's return to coach on the Banks of the Old Raritan will be made official Tuesday.
A special meeting of the Board of Governors will convene at 10 a.m. in Winants Hall and the only item on the agenda is "the consideration and approval of an employment contract for the Head Football Coach in the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics at Rutgers University-New Brunswick."
A new head coach is a good start, but Rutgers needs an influx in talent. Under Chris Ash, the Scarlet Knights went 8-32 before he was fired after a 52-0 loss to Michigan in September. Interim coach Nunzio Campanile guided them to 1-7 mark the rest of the way.
The only individual statistic a Rutgers player led the Big Ten in this season was, wait for it, punting yards. Adam Korsak finished with 99 more yards than Illinois' Blake Hayes.
Back in Rutgers' salad days, the Scarlet Knights were regularly beating teams such as Syracuse, Louisville and Connecticut.In the final seven seasons of Schiano's tenure as Scarlet Knights coach, Rutgers compiled a 56-33 record.
Experts point to the talent void created by New Jersey-bred players leaving for region schools such as Penn State, Notre Dame and Boston College as a big factor for Rutgers' mighty fall.
Schiano's task of restocking the roster could start right here at New Brunswick High School.
Tahjay Moore is the kind of big (6-foot-6, 220 pounds), physical and explosive wide receiver or tight end that any team would love to have. How good is he? Look no further than his spectacular, reach-over-the-defender catch against Sayreville this season.
Moore already has a handful of scholarship offers, although National Signing Day isn't until Feb. 5.
Harris said Moore has been "on Rutgers' radar screen." Director of recruiting Matt Hewitt came to watch Moore. Campanile also came a-calling, the week before he was named interim head coach.
Harris said he would not hesitate to recommend Schiano's program to Moore and one of the reasons is because Schiano tries to teach his players lessons that go beyond the gridiron.
"I was going from a young teenage kid from New Brunswick and he helped groom me into a man (and teach me) how to raise a family, how to prepare to live life righteously, how to be positive and put others first," Harris said. "I always believe that Coach Schiano helped me and some of my peers develop as young men and fine tune our life skills."