The Scarlet Knights picked up their first commitment of the 2007 recruiting class staying in-state for big 6-foot-6, 285-pound defensive tackle Wayne Thomas. The Nottingham, N.J. prospect chose Rutgers over offers from Miami, Ohio State, Purdue, Boston College, Iowa, Michigan State, Syracuse and more.
"Wayne committed to Rutgers this morning and talked to about seven of the coaches there," Nottingham assistant C.J. McKenna said. "He was on the phone with the coaches and I could tell they were extremely happy that they were getting him. Wayne was also very happy and he had a huge smile on his face. He is on cloud nine right now."
Throughout the recruiting process Rutgers had been a leader for the Garden State prospect.
"Wayne finally sat down with me and talked about it and weighed all his options," he said. "I think he really thought about staying close to home and I know he liked the way their coaches presented themselves. He particularly likes how Rutgers is a family atmosphere and thinks they'll give him the individual attention he wants in the classroom. He also feels that Rutgers gives him a great shot to go to a bowl game."
Thomas didn't just like Rutgers in general, but also all the coaches including Greg Schiano.
"I know he is very impressed with the job coach Schiano is doing there, changing things around for the better," he said. "Wayne really likes that he is a defensive minded coach that has a very aggressive defense."
What kind of player are the Scarlet Knights getting?
"They are going to get someone that can step in right away as a freshman and be a leader and an impact player," McKenna said. "He is a spark plug that can make things happen anytime. I know coach Jackson said recently to Wayne that he needs a leader in this recruiting class and wants Wayne to be that guy and I believe he will be. I personally am very comfortable passing him to their coaches because he's in good hands."
Thomas plans to attend camp this summer at Rutgers.
McKenna feels Thomas's decision today directly helps Rutgers for one of the top defensive tackles next season in Nottingham's Richard Cunningham.
"I believe he'll follow Wayne wherever he goes because they are very close," he said. "As long as they offer, it is highly likely he'll follow Wayne to Rutgers and commit right away."