During big, nationally televised college football games, a lot more is happening besides what’s on the field. Prominent games are huge opportunities for college teams to bring in high school recruits to get a taste of big-time atmosphere.
This held true for Rutgers, who hosted No. 4 Michigan on Saturday night. Given the primetime kickoff against a top opponent, it was an obvious opportunity for Scarlet Knight coaches to invite prospects.
However, given the 78-0 beatdown the Wolverines put on Rutgers, the Knights might be regretting that one. According to NewJersey.com, a whopping 200-plus high school prospects were expected to be in attendance. They aren’t all confirmed to have attended, but a bunch sure did.
Eighteen of those were current Rutgers commits, including the two four-stars of the 2017 class, offensive tackle Micah Clark and outside linebacker Tyshon Fogg. The Knights’ 2017 class is currently ranked 27th in the country, according to 247Sports.
Other Rutgers targets expected to be in attendance included four-star linebacker Drew Singleton, who, per 247Sports, is the No. 1 linebacker out of New Jersey and a 92 percent lock to end up at ... Michigan. (Yeah, Jim Harbaugh recruits Jersey a lot. It’s kind of a sore spot for Rutgers.) Three-star quarterback Shelton Applewhite and four-star 2018 defensive tackle Tyler Friday, who is ranked as the No. 1 defensive tackle in New Jersey were also listed.
Besides football recruits, Rutgers basketball, one of the worst basketball programs in the Big Ten, had prospects on hand. Rutgers hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 1991, mind you. Head coach Steve Pikiell said that he was anticipating 50 prospects in attendance.
To give you a taste of what these high schoolers had to watch, here are the numbers on Michigan’s complete disembowelment of Rutgers:
1. The 78-point margin was the biggest in an FBS-on-FBS game this millennium, according to the database at Sports Reference.
2. Rutgers had 6 (SIX!) yards of offense in the first half. That, ESPN said, was the [fewest] in the sport in almost two calendar years, since Wake Forest got 6 in the first half against Boston College.
3. Rutgers did not get a first down until the fourth quarter. ESPN reported that the last team to play a major college football game and not get a first down was Western Carolina (against NC State) in 1990.
Hey, you can’t fault Rutgers for trying, right?