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Monday, February 2, 2015

National Signing Day preview: Rutgers commits most likely to play in 2015

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

Wednesday's National Signing Day becomes the first official marker for college football's new calendar year. Rutgers' current haul sits at 24 commits, five of whom will enroll early.

I reached out to Sam Hellman, a Rutgers recruiting analyst for, for his list of committed prospects most likely to play right away. Listed in alphabetical order.

Blessuan Austin, CB —The prep-school corner from Milford Academy (N.Y.) has attractive size (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) and already has some grooming as a postgrad.

"Austin is a strong athlete, and needed a semester of prep school to get things together," Hellman said. "There is plenty of winnable time at cornerback, especially when you look at the injury history of some other guys.

MORE: Five questions Rutgers' defense must answer this spring

Rashad Blunt, WR — Outside of Leonte Carroo, the Big Ten's top returning receiver, and Andre Patton, little proven outside depth lingers. Another Jacksonville commit, Blunt could fill that void.

"Blunt, like everyone here," Hellman said,  "also has special teams potential to go along with a good mix of skills at wide receiver."

MORE: How will Carroo's usage look in year two with Ralph Friedgen?

Marques Ford, DE — Rutgers' highest-ranked commit flipped from Tennessee last week, and he'll immediately bolster a defensive line that could stand to add some athleticism.

At 6-f00t-3, 222 pounds, he'll likely start at the rush position. But that doesn't rule out an eventual move to defensive end. It's an immediate upgrade.

Nakia Griffin, TE — Following Tyler Kroft's NFL declaration, this position is completely up for grabs. Incumbent Nick Arcidiacono showed little as a receiver, and a handful of redshirt freshmen and walk-ons follow.

"Griffin is an ideal redshirt, but sometimes need overrules readiness," Hellman said. "Griffin is athletic with good hands, and that may be enough to get him on the field right away.

Jawuan Harris, WR — The recently flipped commit from Florida Atlantic flew under the radar during his recruitment, but he could enter the muddled fray on the perimeter.

"Harris's recruitment and high-school body of work compares favorably to Janarion Grant," Hellman said, referring to Rutgers' slot receiver and returner. "At St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.), he's seen plenty of elite competition."

Isaiah Johnson, LB — The juco transfer from San Francisco will likely battle for one of two starting spots, pending where the coaching staff prefers leading tackler Steve Longa.

"Johnson is a good downhill linebacker that gets through the gaps," Hellman said.

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