Rutgers’ 2022 football recruiting class off to a hot start, enters nation’s top 10

Greg Schiano and staff are working hard to ensure Rutgers football becomes a factor in the Big Ten. You could even argue that process has already begun. Following strong recruiting effort in 2021, Rutgers’ 2022 class is ranked ninth in the country and third in the Big Ten per (12th nationally per, following a hot start to the cycle. Eight players have committed thus far, with one defection and other additions in sight. But what does the class consist of and how did we get to this point? Let’s break it down.

Rutgers 2022 OL offeree Joe De Croce with father Richard adn brother Marco last November when Rutgers played Michigan State. (Photo courtesy of De Croce)

4 huge OL headline the class

Offensive line, defensive line and tight end remain primary positions of need for Rutgers heading into the second offseason of Greg Schiano’s second stint. Rutgers has addressed the former in historic fashion, adding four commitments along its offensive front this month — three within state borders. All are huge, ranked three-stars and have high ceilings, which should help Rutgers compete more consistently.

On Feb. 6, Pickerington (Ohio) Central guard/tackle Kobe Asamoah (6-5, 295, projects to guard) and Northern Valley-Demarest tackle Joe De Croce (6-6, 295) joined Hudson Catholic tackle Taj White (6-5, 295) and Union City tackle Nelson Monegro (6-7, 280), who committed on Feb. 3 and Feb. 4, respectively, as Rutgers commits. White is the highest-ranked of the bunch. The Scarlet Knights also scored a 2023 offensive line commitment from Union City’s JaSire Peterson (6-4, 270) on Jan. 19, who projects as a four-star recruit.

JaSire Peterson, Wil Valdez and Nelson Monegro.

JaSire Peterson, Wil Valdez and Nelson Monegro. (Photo courtesy of Valdez)

Play-makers on the uptick

Springfield (Ill.) athlete Rashad Rochelle (5-11, 170) and Cedar Creek (Egg Harbor City, N.J.) wide receiver JoJo Bermudez (5-9, 160) were two of the first three players to commit to the class. Both are twitchy, athletic and make plays.

Bermudez boasts elite speed and can score from anywhere on the field. He’ll enroll at Rutgers early in the spring. Rochelle plays quarterback at Springfield but projects to wide receiver at Rutgers. He’s the second-ranked player in the class. Both are ranked three-stars.

Willingboro vs. Cedar Creek football, Aug. 30, 2019

Cedar Creek’s Jojo Bermudez (3) carries the ball during a football game against Willingboro, Friday, Aug. 30, 2019. Joe Warner | For NJ Advance Media

Big fish in a deepening pond

Rutgers landed the biggest piece to its thriving 2022 class in four-star Neumann Goretti (Philadelphia, Pa.) linebacker Anthony Johnson (6-2, 235) on Wednesday night, due to strong recruiting efforts from defensive backs coach Fran Brown and Greg Schiano. His former schoolmate, Diamond Johnson (no relation), is a freshman guard on the women’s basketball team, helping Johnson feel even more at home.

“The fact that I get to play in front of my family and friends means a lot,” Johnson told NJ Advance Media via Twitter direct message prior to announcing publicly on Twitter. “It’s a blessing to play this game and I want to share that with the people closest to me.”

Johnson becomes the highest ranked player in Rutgers class and its pseudo-leader, as well. Not only does he play a position that comes with leadership responsibilities — middle linebacker — but he’s a natural fit.

A sustained blow

On Feb. 9, Western New York Maritime Charter School wide receiver Addison Copeland (6-2, 190) became the first (and, so for, only) player to decommit from Rutgers’ 2022 class, after being committed since Sept. 17. Although it briefly halted Rutgers’ momentum, he had just earned a Notre Dame offer, making the move plausible.

Assistants Tommy Rees and DelVaughn Alexander are primarily responsible for securing Copeland for the Fighting Irish. However, he hasn’t picked a new school and tells NJ Advance Media that Rutgers is still one of his top options. Rutgers has also remained committed to recruiting the speedy skill player, despite his status change.

His recruitment is a group effort spearheaded by wide receivers coach Tiquan Underwood, top recruiter Fran Brown, and linebackers coach Bob Fraser, who recruits Upstate New York.

Comparing the 2021 class

Rutgers’ 2021 recruiting class finished the cycle ranked No. 41 in the country and ninth in the Big Ten. The class was composed of 21 high school players and four transfers. The ‘22 class has a chance to surpass those rankings if Schiano, Fran Brown and company can keep the momentum going.

It’s registering a whopping 32 points better in this early stage of the cycle. However, schools usually drift toward the mean as four- and five-star driven schools match their commitment count. Nevertheless, what Rutgers has done thus far, is impressive.

Rutgers commits Carnell Davis and Alijah Clark.

Rutgers commits Carnell Davis and Alijah Clark. (Photo courtesy of Clark)

Road to National Signing Day 2022

Rutgers could take around 15 high school recruits in what will be a small class due to the NCAA-imposed free year of eligibility for all players and Rutgers’ front-loaded moves which allowed it to quickly improve the roster and compete.

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano

Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano looks on during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Maryland, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, in College Park, Md. Rutgers won 27-24 in overtime. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) APAP

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Todderick Hunt may be reached at [email protected].

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