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Penn State’s Grip On New Jersey’s Recruiting Scene Continues To Grow

Penn State football is used to dominating Rutgers, regardless of whether their meetings are played in Happy Valley or the not-so friendly confines of Piscataway, New Jersey. However, the Nittany Lions have also owned the Scarlet Knights on the recruiting trail in their home state.

From past consensus All-Americans like Tamba Hali, to key pieces on the 2016 Big Ten Championship team like Mike Gesicki and Jason Cabinda, to current starters Will Fries, Steven Gonzalez, and Juwan Johnson, Penn State has long found success plucking players from New Jersey.

While some power five programs attempt to adopt a “dominate the state” mantra when it comes to recruiting, the Garden State’s best have been up for grabs to any program not named Rutgers.

Schools like Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, and certainly Penn State have set up shop in removing New Jersey’s top talent, resulting in losing seasons for Rutgers in 13 of the past 20 years.

Penn State has made its presence felt in New Jersey during its return to national prominence in college football.

According to 247 Sports Composite rankings, the Nittany Lions landed seven top 10-ranked New Jersey recruits during James Franklin’s first two seasons as their head coach. Meanwhile in Piscataway, Rutgers got none.

In the 2018 class, Penn State signed the top two players from New Jersey in Justin Shorter and Jayson Oweh. Rutgers ended up with only two players in the state’s top 20 during that recruiting cycle. 

In the 2019 class, Penn State currently has a commitment from the highest rated offensive recruit in New Jersey — offensive guard Caedan Wallace — and secured top quarterback Taquan Roberson‘s verbal commitment. Rutgers’ highest commit from New Jersey is the No. 15 overall prospect in the state.

Even though he’s from Pennsylvania, we’d be remiss if we forgot to mention that one running back who was committed to Rutgers, but ended up at Penn State. To be fair, Saquon Barkley does play football in New Jersey now — he’s busy tearing up NFL defenses with the New York Giants in East Rutherford after a stellar collegiate career in Happy Valley. He wouldn’t fit into the Scarlet Knights’ loaded backfield anyway.

Rutgers can expect to continue watching its state’s best prospects pour over to State College, as James Franklin’s presence in New Jersey will only grow with continued domination of the Scarlet Knights on the gridiron. 

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About the Author

Brian Bachman

Brian Bachman is a freshman in the school of communications and a contributor at Onward State. He is from northern Virginia but fell in love with Penn State a few years ago and knew after his first visit he wanted to come here. If you are a fan of the SUPER BOWL 52 CHAMPION PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (!!!) or sports in general, follow him on twitter @brianbachman_. Email is [email protected]

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