New Brunswick High School football star Maurice Ffrench, who has already made a nonbinding commitment to the University of Pittsburgh, has generated interest from Rutgers, which sent assistant Darrell Wilson, a defensive backs coach, to scout the senior on Friday night.
“Rutgers came to see the kid play because I think they know he’s a top recruit in the area,” New Brunswick head coach Don Sofilkanich said. “From speaking to their coach, they liked what they saw.”
Ffrench, who is the Greater Middlesex Conference’s all-purpose yardage leader, did not disappoint, scoring four touchdowns in a 38-28 victory over Freehold Township, all while being named Homecoming King in front of the Memorial Stadium crowd.
The league’s leading rusher with 1,081 yards on 67 carries (16.1 yards per attempt), Ffrench entered Friday night’s game with 381 receiving yards.
He projects as a cornerback or a slot receiver. Earlier this year, Ffrench shut down Woodbridge’s Quaasim Glover, the conference’s top receiver, in single coverage.
The Scarlet Knights have yet to offer Ffrench, but Brian Dohn, a national recruiting analyst for Scout.com who covered New Brunswick’s win over Freehold Township, said he believes Rutgers’ interest in the star running back and defensive back is “significant because they play the No. 1 team in the country (Ohio State on Saturday night) and sent two assistants on the road, and one of them went to see (Ffrench) play.”
It is not unusual for colleges to offer players who have already committed, as was the case with St. Joseph lineman Nick Krimin, who made a nonbinding commitment to Rutgers in February but received an offer from Miami earlier this month.
“This is common practice now,” Dohn told MyCentralJersey.com in an interview about Krimin’s Miami offer. “Gone are the days when a kid verbals and his recruitment is over. A lot of times when a kid verbals it means his recruitment is about to start.”
Ffrench told Dohn on Friday night that Wilson’s presence at the game, “Does mean something to me because that’s my hometown (Rutgers’ New Brunswick campus). Everybody knows they’d love to play for their hometown.”
Sofilkanich said Ffrench, who many regard as one of the best all-around players in the state, is focused on academics and athletics. “He’s worrying about football and school right now,” Sofilkanich said.
“Maurice Ffrench is by far, in my estimation, the most dominating player right now in the GMC,” said MyCentralJersey.com football analyst Marcus Borden, an NJSIAA and NJFCA Hall of Fame mentor. “He has single-handedly taken on the responsibility of making big plays at key moments in big games for his team. He never ceases to amaze me with his ability to make something out of nothing. He’s by far the most dynamic player.”
Once a hotbed for major Division I talent, New Brunswick posted a 68-19 record, made eight consecutive playoff appearances, won three sectional titles and groomed 16 Division I players during an eight-year run beginning in 2002.
Former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett, who was an All-American at USC, and current New York Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas, who won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints, were part of New Brunswick’s golden era.
Rutgers has already received nonbinding commitments from four GMC players including Krimin, defensive back Phil Campbell (South Brunswick), linebacker Solomon Manning (Colonia) and athlete Mohamed Jabbie (South Brunswick). The Scarlet Knights have also offered Old Bridge quarterback Artur Sitkowski and are recruiting South Brunswick wide receiver Justin Shorter.
Sofilkanich has led a rebirth at New Brunswick, where the Zebras are 7-0 and have a chance to finish undefeated for the third time in school history (the Zebras posted unblemished records in 2003 and 1926).
When he became the school’s fourth head coach in six years, Sofilkanich inherited a program that lost 37 of 39 games including a 26-game losing streak.