PISCATAWAY, New Jersey — Chris Ash's first recruiting class at Rutgers was somewhat like pulling an all-nighter for a big test.
Hired in early December to replace the fired Kyle Flood, Ash crammed a year's worth of telephone calls, letter writing, visits and cajoling into roughly two months and came away with a class of 17 recruits bolstered by two graduate transfers.
It wasn't a top of the line class, and the Scarlet Knights had about a dozen players who verbally committed go elsewhere. Need was served, though.
Coming off a 4-8 season, Rutgers filled immediate and future holes at linebacker and the offensive line, and it found a quarterback to run a more wide-open offense.
"We weren't worried about chasing stars," Ash said. "We weren't worried about 40 times and vertical jumps and all that. All that is great, and do we want that stuff, absolutely. But there were other factors that were more important at this point in our tenure here that we wanted to try to bring to this program. And there was no number set that we had to try to get, 15, 16, 22 at all. It was the right group of guys that fit what we wanted to try to do."
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class: No
Best in class: Tylin Oden, QB, Columbia, Tennessee. While starter Chris Laviano and backup Hayden Rettig are returning, Oden has the athleticism to run the power spread offense. Ohio State used that offense when Ash was the Buckeyes defensive coordinator and new offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer used that system when he was an assistant at Houston. Oden threw 15 touchdowns and ran for 10 more last season for Spring Hill High School, which averaged 30 points. "We wanted to find a quarterback that fit that system, and I think we hit a home run with that," Ash said. "Tylin Oden is exactly what we want in the system for the future, and Tylin is an outstanding quarterback, a talented kid that can beat you with his feet and his arm."
Best of the rest: Trey Sneed, RB, Orange Park, Florida He had more than 10 scholarship offers including from North Carolina, Wake Forest and Louisville. The 5-foot-10, 200-pounder rushed for 1,294 yards and scored 15 touchdowns for Fleming Island (6-4). He also served as a wildcat quarterback during his junior season.
Late addition: Ahmed Bah, WR, New York. His signing was announced after Rutgers put out its original list Wednesday. He helped Grand Street Campus to a 13-0 record and the school's first-ever New York Public Schools Athletic League State Championship. Had 36 catches for 793 yards and 13 touchdowns this past season, including five in the postseason.
One that got away: Patrice Rene, DB. He committed to Rutgers in early August but changed his mind after Kyle Flood was fired. He will attend North Carolina.
How they'll fit in: Ash's guiding rule was to find players who fit his program, who had character, intelligence, toughness and would compete. Four are early enrollees and they are already working out. With little depth, a lot of these players should play a role, even if just on special teams. The linebackers are the most pressing need so expect them to play right away.