The "State of Rutgers" is apparently larger than New Jersey.
When asked about his team's recruiting area during Monday's Big Ten media days, Rutgers coach Kyle Flood mentioned the "State of Rutgers," as the territory of the state university of New Jersey.
"Certainly as we recruit, we recruit what's called the State of Rutgers," Flood said. And the State of Rutgers begins in New Jersey, but it also includes southeastern New York, eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and we've always traditionally recruited Florida. So that's been our recruiting footprint, and that will not change."
"What I will tell you is the Big Ten schools, whether it's our neighbor to the west, our neighbor to the south or any other traditional programs in the Big Ten, have always recruited New Jersey. And that hasn't changed. And what's important to me is that we find the right players that are right for Rutgers."
"I would tell you the one thing that changed is we've seen some more interest from some non‑traditional areas. Last year we signed a tight end from Texas, a tight end from Minnesota, a quarterback from Michigan. So to me, that really has been the biggest change because those players I'm not so sure would have been as interested in playing in the Big East, but they're certainly interested in playing in the Big Ten."
However, if Rutgers is to be successful in the Big Ten, it's going to need to up its recruiting game in its home state. The state of New Jersey, that is. While Flood may believe he's seen a national uptick in interest in his program because of the conference switch, the number of high-profile Big Ten commitments in the state of New Jersey has increased as well.
In 2012, before the plans to switch conferences were announced, Rutgers signed 10 of New Jersey's Rivals three-star and above recruits to letters of intent, including five of New Jersey's top 10 recruits. Three three-star and above players signed with other Big Ten schools.
In 2013 and 2014, Rutgers has signed 11 of the 69 Rivals three-star and above recruits the state has produced while 19 committed to other Big Ten schools.
Much has been made of the Big Ten's increased presence in New York City-area markets because of the addition of Rutgers. The recruiting flip-flop over the past two years could be evidence that the area is ripe for a Big Ten takeover from the conference's other 13 schools. Or it could simply be a fluke. If it's the former, Rutgers' football fortunes are in trouble.
Jabrill Peppers still slated to start out at nickel CB for Michigan
Michigan coach Brady Hoke doesn't want to let Jabrill Peppers' reputation get any higher than it is just yet.
Peppers, the top DB in the class of 2014 according to Rivals and the No. 3 prospect in the country, is still projected to begin his Michigan career at nickel corner when Michigan opens fall camp on Sunday.
"The plan hasn't changed," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. "I think we've got to be careful about anointing any true freshmen starting their college career, but that's where he will start."
Peppers arrived on Michigan's campus in June and many Michigan fans wondered if he'd be given the No. 2 jersey. That's the number worn by Charles Woodson at Michigan. Woodson was the 1997 Heisman Trophy winner.
However, Peppers was given No. 5 and Blake Countess will wear No. 2. Had Peppers been given that number, it'd be even harder for Hoke to tamp down expectations for him.
Wondering when Peppers can be anointed? Hoke said the following:
"Let's anoint him when he does something, right? I mean, let's see what he can do."
If Peppers has a good opening practice, watch out.
Kevin Wilson thinks Indiana's defense will be 'significantly improved'
Let's just get this out of the way right now. It's almost impossible for Indiana's defense to be worse than it was in 2013.
Indiana's offense was fine, scoring 38.4 points per game, the 17th most in FBS. But on defense, the Hoosiers gave up 38.8 points per game (117th in FBS) and over 6 yards per play last season. The fewest points Indiana allowed all season in conference play was 24 in a win over Penn State and it gave up the most yards per game in conference history.
Hence why Indiana went 5-7 and didn't make a bowl.
After the season, defensive coordinator Doug Mallory was fired and former Wake Forest DC Brian Knorr was hired. Knorr ran a 3-4 defense at Wake Forest and Indiana's 2014 recruiting class was skewed towards the defensive side of the ball.
With the offense's prowess, a bowl game is reachable with even a slight improvement. And it's clear Wilson isn't expecting his defense to go from cellar dwellars to the top of the conference overnight either.
"We recruited 15 guys to that side of the ball," Wilson said. "Got 10 guys back, and you'll see some young guys in the mix. We're going to be young, we're going to be more athletic, we're making a change, we're going to be a work in progress. But from what I saw in spring, we're going to be significantly improved on D."
Penn State looking to Notre Dame and Navy for preparation help for season-opener
Penn State coach James Franklin said his program is looking to previous visitors to Ireland for advice.
In 2012, Notre Dame and Navy played in Ireland to start the season. This year, the Nittany Lions play Central Florida to open the season in Dublin on August 31.
"We've obviously reached out to programs and organizations that have played in this game in the past," Franklin said. "Navy and Notre Dame have been a resource. Our equipment staff have reached out to them, our administrative staff, as well as our trainers and doctors."
"They've been a really good resource, and very appreciative of the help they've been able to give us. We sent out a team of guys from Penn State, about seven people from the administration as well as specifically football."
Franklin also said he's been asking Penn State women's soccer coach Erica Walsh for international travel tips. Walsh has served as an assistant coach for the U.S. Women's National Team.
Penn Stae plans to leave Tuesday Aug. 26 after classes and arrive in Ireland Wednesday morning.
Randy Edsall was not paying attention to ACC's media days
Maryland's old conference had its preseason media days last week. Was Maryland coach Randy Edsall watching them and looking back fondly or wondering what could be if the Terrapins had stayed in the ACC?
Uh, he was doing the opposite of that.
"No," Edsall said. "I was in St. Thomas and I was enjoying the heck out of St. Thomas. So, again, change is inevitable in life, and what you do is you embrace change. And at the end of last season, we pretty much put it forward that this is where we're going and this is what we have to concentrate on. And this is what our future is."
- - - - - - -