January 5, 2011

Rutgers joins battle with MSU for Top 100 DT

Marquise Wright, one of the highest-ranked players still on Michigan State's recruiting war room board, will be taking two more visits after his trip to East Lansing, his high school football coach said, Tuesday.

Wright, of Paramus (N.J.) Catholic High School, was scheduled to wrap up his recruiting tours with a Jan. 21 visit to the University of Miami. He told Rivals.com's Mike Farrell earlier this week that he was considering a Jan. 28 visit to Rutgers. On Tuesday, Wright's high school coach, Chris Partridge confirmed that the nation's No. 69 players will in fact that an official visit to Rutgers.

"Rutgers just recently got involved, because of Coach Hafley," Partridge said. "Haff is phenomenal."

That would be Jeff Hafley, who was hired as an assistant coach at Rutgers on Dec. 18, after being dismissed as part of Dave Wannstedt's fired staff at the University of Pittsburgh earlier in the month.

Hafley said Rutgers had some lost ground to make up where Wright is concerned.

"I don't know if it's ego or what, but I guess they (Rutgers) felt like he should have wanted to go there automatically because he's from New Jersey, instead of recruiting the kid," Partridge said. "Rutgers like refuses to recruit New Jersey. Now that Haff is there, we'll see. Rutgers hasn't really won with the in-state kids and that's a negative that starts it off. I think it will be tough for him (Wright) to make the decision to go back there."

But Hafley is a game-changer.

"He's a great guy and he is going to fix it," Partridge said of his perception that Rutgers has had problems communicating with some New Jersey prospects. "He's an honest guy that forms good relationship. I think he'll get that solved. I'm pretty confident of that.

"It's almost like Marquise was going to visit anywhere that Haff went to. They formed that great of a relationship.

"Haff had four or five guys from New Jersey committed to Pittsburgh, now they are trying to get all of them to visit Rutgers the same weekend."

Michigan State hopes to have staked a lead for Wright by then. The athletic, physical defensive tackle will visit North Carolina this weekend, and Michigan State the weekend of Jan. 14. He will visit Miami the weekend of Jan. 21.

Wright committed to Pitt in June, but reopened the process in December.

"When Wannstedt got fired, it was free game on everyone, so we got calls all day, every day, from everyone, trying to get back in on him," Partridge said. "He has over 50 offers, so it's wild."

Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi serves as the Spartans' primary recruiter for Wright.

"Marquise has kind of had to narrow it back down to the coaches he felt close to and the schools," Partridge said. "Coach Narduzzi did an unbelievable job with him and formed a good relationship, so right away he came to me and said, 'I want to go visit Michigan State.' That's a credit to Coach Narduzzi and obviously the school."

Wright visited Maryland on Dec. 18, but the Terrapins announced the firing of Ralph Friedgen a few days later.

"It's been a hard process in some ways, with the coaching changes," Partridge said. "He wanted to go to Pittsburgh. He was committed there, and then with everything that happened he obviously couldn't make that happen. So he opened it back up, and he has some great schools that have stayed with him. He has some great opportunities so he is going to take his visits and see where it lays."

Wright has told Rivals.com that Pittsburgh is no longer under consideration.

Wright will entertain at least two in-home visits from head coaches this week.

"I know Al Golden from Miami is going to be here on Thursday," Partridge said. "North Carolina is going to come on Wednesday. The visits are starting up again. I am assuming Michigan State will be in next week."

Coming soon, Part 2 of Jim Comparoni's two-part series on Marquise Wright, including scouting report information on him, which schools appear to be his top two, and revealing compliments about Wright's personality off the field. "He's an amazing person with a good heart, all for the team," Partridge said of Wright.

Look for that story in the coming days on SpartanMag.com.

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