New Jersey is always one of the most underrated states for producing football talent. It is one of the top 10 in the country and Rutgers has recruited its share in recent years--but many top players don't have local allegiance and choose to leave the state.
Every school from USC to Florida recruits in the Garden State. I haven't seen Illinois but virtually everyone else, including Northwestern, is making its presence felt despite the fact that there isn't a single 5-star prospect in the state, not a single top 25 player.
In fact, there is no concensus about the No. 1 player. There are 10 to 12 who are big-time prospects. But who is the best still is to be determined.
Theo Riddick, a 5-11, 190-pound running back/cornerback from Somerville, has committed to Notre Dame over Penn State, Iowa and Rutgers. He is a 4-star player the best skilled player in the state. He is a two-time all-state selection.
Aaron Hayward, a 6-0, 190-pound wide receiver/running back/defensive back from Carneys Point, has been offered by Rutgers, Maryland, Virginia and Penn State. He has been timed in 10.6 seconds for 100 meters.
Shawney Kersey, a 6-2, 165-pounder from Woodbury, is the best wide receiver in the state. He has been timed in 10.4 seconds for 100 meters. Rutgers is said to have an edge over Boston College, West Virginia and Oklahoma.
Another talented wide receiver is Tyree Watkins, a 6-2, 185-pounder from Camden. He also plays free safety, quarterback and running back. Iowa and Michigan are in the mix.
The best tight end is 6-5, 285-pound Malcolm Bush of Hackensack. He also is a standout at defensive end. Florida and Clemson have offered.
The best offensive lineman is 6-4, 285-pound Khalil Wilkes of Jersey City. Northwestern has offered. He scored 1,520 on his SAT.
The two best defensive linemen are teammates at The Hun School, a private prep school in Princeton. They are 6-6, 260-pound Anthony LaLota, who has played only one year of organized football but already has landed 30 offers, including Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State, has has emerged as the most widely recruited player in New Jersey; and 6-1, 290-pound noseguard Tyler Stockton, who is committed to Notre Dame. Stockton is one of the top four nose tackles in the country.
The biggest sleeper is defensive lineman Mike Larrow, a 6-3, 250-pounder from Union. Not a lot of people are talking about him and only Rutgers and Syracuse have offered. I think he should have at least 20 offers at this time. He is that good.
Another noseguard to watch is 6-3, 295-pound Isaac Holmes of Hoboken, who has 15 offers, including Notre Dame, USC, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia.
The crop of linebackers is headed by 6-2, 225-pound Carlo Calabrese of Verona, who has been offered by Notre Dame, and 6-2, 225-pound Glen Carson, the state heavyweight wrestling champion, who has been offered by Iowa, Michigan State and several Eastern schools.