Chris Ash and Rutgers Football Holds Tri-State Showcase at FDU
MADISON, N.J. – The hot topic in New Jersey college and high school football is the “war” between Rutgers and Michigan.
As Rutgers was in the lowest point of the Kyle Flood era, Jim Harbaugh entered at Michigan and came into the great Garden State and plucked some of the best high school prospects in the 2016 class including five of the top eight recruits in the 247sports composite rankings including Paramus Catholic’s Rashan Gary, the number one player in the country.
Paramus Catholic has been an issue recently as well as Harbaugh – crazy antics and all – has seemingly bought a house next to the school.
Harbaugh put together a satellite camp last night at the parochial power featuring the ex-Standford and San Francisco 49er’s coach (himself), staffs from Syracuse and Maryland, a slew of other lower-tiered smaller schools, and Jim’s brother, John Harbaugh, the current Baltimore Ravens head coach of the NFL.
What’s more, Jim is slated to speak at the school’s graduation commencement today. Oh, and it was reported yesterday that PC will play their first game against St. Frances Academy (Maryland) at “The Big House”, home of the Wolverines on Sept. 2.
In addition, UM has former Paladin’s star Jabrill Peppers and is considered the favorite for No.1 New Jersey 2017 recruit linebacker Drew Singleton. Their linebackers coach, Chris Partridge, used to be the head coach at PC.
Where does the list end?
Scarlet Knights head Chris Ash has been on the job for about six months, and him and his staff are trying to “Fence The Garden”, a term used for keeping all the highly-regarded in-state kids in Jersey and playing for Rutgers and not elsewhere.
Well, Ash turning down an invitation from Harbaugh to work at the Wolverines/Paramus Catholic’s Next Level Football Camp was spearheaded by the Tri-State Football Showcase Rutgers put together a mere 30 miles away at the Farleigh Dickinson University – Florham Park Campus at the same time as the UM camp. Staffs from Temple and Ohio State, including head coach Urban Meyer and the man himself who built Rutgers up from the ground and is now the defensive coordinator for the Buckeyes in Greg Schiano were in attendance. In addition, Ash swayed former Ravens head coach Brian Billick to join the fold at FDU.
“[It’s] really exciting to be honest with you,” Ash told DoubleGSports and other media just before the showcase got going Wednesday night on putting together the event. “I’m really excited about the turnout of coaches and players, got beautiful weather. I just look here in the state of New Jersey – North Jersey – and you have two outstanding events going on. We’re here in the middle of June and everyone’s talking about college football and football here in New Jersey and couldn’t be more excited about this event and other events going on right now.”
But is there any retaliation against Harbaugh and Michigan or PC? Ash didn’t think so, so he said.
“It’s not about us and Paramus. It’s not about us and Michigan,” Ash said. “It’s about trying to brand ourselves and promote the game of football. Unfortunately I think it’s been portrayed that way. That’s unfortunate. That’s not what this is about. We’re out here just trying to have a good time and coach some ball.
“People can say what they want. I’m just excited about our event. I’m excited about the coaches that came to work with these guys. Thrilled about the interest in our program and the turnout tonight. I’m really thrilled for the state of New Jersey. To be able to host two events like this is outstanding.”
“I commend Coach Harbaugh for what he’s doing. He’s done a great job of getting his brand and Michigan’s brand out there around the nation, promoting the game of football. What he’s done is force a lot of other coaches to think outside the box and go out and do the same things. We’re just excited to be able to come out and coach some football and we’re thrilled about the turnout.”
Going off of pre-registration tallies of high schoolers who signed up, the Next Level Football camp (650 participants) had more than the Rutgers camp (500-600).
“The fact that there’s more kids here…I guess we won,” John Harbaugh told APP.com. “I look at it that way. There’s your quote right there.”
Sorry John, Rutgers ended up having more.
After allowing walk-up registration, over 1,000 recruits went through testing, warmups, positional drills, and one-on-ones on the turf of Robert T. Shields field and the surrounding area on campus.
In talking to the media, Ash didn’t give a headline quote like the one John Harbaugh did, but he gave a more fitting answer.
“I just think its a great event for everybody,” Ash said. “Who wins in this whole thing – the student-athletes or the high school prospects do. Whether they are trying to get recruited or just trying to get better, again you have a ton of coaches from all over the place help coach these guys [and] evaluate them. I doubt there’s been an event like this in New Jersey before, so its really exciting for everybody.
“It helps us evaluate a lot of talent out here, but what are a lot of people talking about? They’re talking about Rutgers football. Especially when you are a new coach and a new program, it’s a lot about marketing yourself and putting together events that people get excited about. That’s what we’re doing.”
*Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisWasky
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