University of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh landed five of the top seven prep football recruits in New Jersey’s Class of 2016, including the nation’s top overall recruit Rashan Gary, and it didn’t take long for the state’s perennial powerhouse high school coaches to issue a response.
When Rutgers announced its staff would be joining forces with coaches from Ohio State for a football camp at New Jersey’s Fairleigh Dickinson University on June 8, Bergen Catholic coach Nunzio Campanile, Don Bosco Prep coach Greg Toal and St. Peter’s Prep coach Rich Hansen all pledged to urge their players to attend that camp instead of the one Harbaugh’s staff is holding on the same day at Gary’s alma mater, Paramus Catholic, according to NJ.com.
“I think it’s a great response,” Campanile told NJ Advanced Media of Rutgers coach Chris Ash’s decision to team up with Michigan’s archrival in an effort to thwart the Wolverines. “I think he’s sending a message that this is our state. Listen, Michigan has a great program, but I don’t think they should be setting the terms on how it’s done in New Jersey. Rutgers is the home-state school, and I think we should all respect that. We should all respect the job that Coach Ash has ahead of him. I think that he’s doing a great job. We’re here helping him any way we can.”
In the process, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who recently added former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano to his staff as a defensive coordinator, might reap the rewards of Harbaugh’s aggressive infiltration following the NCAA’s decision to rescind a ban on satellite camps.
“I got a ton of respect for Urban Meyer and the Rutgers coach seems like a real gentleman,” Toal told NJ Advanced Media. “So I definitely would attend their camp for sure. I think there’s a tremendous amount of loyalty to Rutgers and also to Ohio State. I’d love to attend their camp, and I’ll try to bring my team for sure.”
After all, New Jersey’s top four Class of 2017 recruits — Markquese Bell, Drew Singleton, Fred Hansard and Dalyn Wade-Perry — all remain undecided on their collegiate destination. Although, two of the state’s five uncommitted four-star juniors play for Paramus Catholic (Singleton and teammate Corey Bolds), where Harbaugh will be hosting his camp on June 8.
Former Paramus Catholic coach Chris Partridge joined Harbaugh’s staff at Michigan in 2015.
“Obviously, Michigan wants to conspire with Paramus Catholic to do whatever they want to do,” added Campanile, whose brother Anthony is on the staff at Boston College, one of five programs that will join Michigan at Paramus. “So I don’t think they’re making friends from that standpoint with a lot of these schools. I really don’t know what to say about it. But it is what it is. They’re obviously aligned with those guys, and if that’s what they want to do, it’s their business.
“But I don’t think Rutgers should let those guys come in here and have their way. I also think that any high school coach in New Jersey who lets their kid go to Paramus Catholic has to kind of rethink what they’re doing. I’m glad that Rutgers is doing it. I’m glad that Ohio State is doing it. And I hope it’s extremely successful.”
There’s no love lost when it comes to Michigan and Ohio State, and somehow New Jersey’s coaches managed to transform one of the nation’s most bitter rivalries into a love triangle.