Greg Schiano's decision to bolt from Rutgers to Tampa Bay comes at quite possibly the worst time for Scarlet Knights with National Signing Day just six days away. Rutgers was poised just 24 hours ago to finish with their best recruiting class in their history. Rivals.com has the Scarlet Knights with 17 verbal commitments and the No. 32 class in the nation.
But already, there are signs of unrest in the Rutgers camp. One program source, which spoke to Yahoo! Sports on the condition of anonymity, said several recruits who were expected to sign their Letters of Intent next week are beginning to waiver.
"It's already beginning to happen," the source said.
Rutgers was actually on the cusp of grabbing its first-ever five-star player in defensive end Darius Hamilton of Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey, who was expected to pick Rutgers on Tuesday night. Rivals100 athlete Devin Fuller of Old Tappan (N.J.) High also was on the hook and many believed he was going to announce his Rutgers alliance on Sunday night.
With those additions, Rutgers could have finished with a top 25 class, the first since Rivals began tracking rankings in 2002.
Don Bosco Prep (NJ) defensive end Darius HamiltonNow, several of the high-level recruits that Rutgers had snagged, including four four-star recruits — Don Bosco Prep receiver Leonte Carroo, Pennsbury High (Pa) offensive lineman J.J. Denman, Timber Creek (Sicklerville, N.J.) linebacker Quanzell Lambert and Boyertown Area Senior (Pa) offensive lineman Chris Muller — could be in the wind before the weekend.
"I don't know what I'm going to do," Muller told ScarletNation.com. "I've already received calls from Michigan, South Carolina and Virginia and I plan on getting together with a bunch of Rutgers commitments to figure this out.
"I'm meeting with JJ Denman, Blake Rankin, Mike Giacone, Brandon Arcidiacono and Desmon Peoples later tonight. Part of us wants to just stick together and say we're a family and forget about everything else.
"We've been put in a bad situation."
Don Bosco Prep coach Greg Toal told The Star-Ledger that Caroo, who has been committed to the Scarlet Knights since August, is now undecided. Toal also told the paper that Hamilton was leaning toward the Scarlet Knights, but may have changed his mind in the wake of Thursday's news. Hamilton is actually visiting Miami this weekend.
Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell points out that one advantage to Schiano's departure so close to signing day is that players looking for new schools might be aced out of scholarship offers.
"The only good news for Rutgers is that it is so late in the process that many of the commitments could simply sign with Rutgers because other options dried up or they just don't want to re-start the recruiting process so late," Farrell told ScarletNaInterim coach Kyle Flood (Tony Kurdzuk/US Presswire)tion.com.
On the other hand, several high-level recruits could be ripe for some late poaching and several coaches save one or two scholarships just for situations such as these.
As for current players, like with any coaching change, there's a sense of betrayal and several are wondering what the next step might be. Long-time offensive line coach Kyle Flood has been named interim head coach with athletic director Tim Pernetti saying he was hoping to have a replacement for Schiano sometime within the next week.
"Some [took it] tougher than others," junior linebacker Khaseem Greene said. "The young guys took it the toughest, but we all understand. We know at the end of the day and we understand, we agree with it. Whether it's a business aspect or an opportunity that you can't pass up, we understand and respect that."
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Kristian Dyer is on Twitter: Follow him @KristianRDyer