Item #1: Newark Star-Ledger

RU recruitment wows star DT right from start

Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Star-Ledger Staff

Scott Vallone heard the noise immediately but pretended not to notice, doing his best to pay rapt attention as Boston College football coach Jeff Jagodzinksi and assistant Bill McGovern, his recruiting ace, made their pitch.

But if the sounds were possible to ignore, the sight was not. A helicopter had just landed on the practice field at St. Anthony High School in South Huntington, N.Y., and moments after it did, Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano and assistant Kyle Flood emerged from it.

Reports say Rutgers coach "Greg" Schiano routinely lands near high schools in helicopters in attempt to impress prospective football recruits.


Vallone and the two Boston College coaches only had to glance outside of the room they were meeting in at the time to notice the splashy entrance.

"I just looked at the two of them and said 'sorry,'" said Vallone, the top-rated defensive tackle in New York state. "They just kind of looked at each other and tried to smile.

"I was a little embarrassed. It was awkward at first. But I have to admit: It was pretty impressive."

Maybe Schiano's sense of timing that day last spring didn't seal the deal with the 6-3, 267-pound Vallone. But it probably didn't hurt.

Rated the nation's No. 32 defensive lineman by SuperPrep Magazine, and labeled "one of the top five prospects in New York State," by Tom Lemming of Prep Football Report and CSTV, Vallone is one of the headliners in Schiano's latest recruiting class that will be officially unveiled today.

That class currently numbers 18, though three -- offensive lineman Art Forst, WR Keith Stroud and quarterback Steve Shimko -- have already enrolled in school and will be able to participate in spring practice. The remaining 15 are expected to make their commitments official today, the start of the National Letter of Intent signing period.

"I was pretty much down to Rutgers and Boston College at the time," Vallone said. "I don't know if the helicopter trip made a difference. In fact, I had to hear about it the next few days in school. Guys would pass me by with their arms out pretending to be airplanes.

"It was more that coach Schiano showed so much personal interest in me and we hit it off. He's a coach I am going to enjoy playing for."

Vallone, who also considered Maryland and Virginia, is exactly the type of Long Island star that Boston College and Syracuse seemed to have exclusive rights to the previous decade. That was before Schiano extended "the state of Rutgers" in his recruiting -- in part because of increasing reliance on a helicopter that enables him to make several stops in a day.

"If Scott Vallone is playing in North Jersey, Michigan, Notre Dame and all the big schools are all over him," MSG high school guru Mike Quick said. "Long Island doesn't have that reputation. But I'm telling you, he has a chance to be special."

Quick was sold during a game in Vallone's junior year against Iona Prep in New Rochelle, N.Y.

"As good a series as I've ever seen a defensive player have," he said. "On the first play they run a sweep away from him and he does a swim move on the offensive lineman and it's like he's shot out of a cannon. He gets the running back for a four-yard loss. That's when I knew he was a difference maker."

St. Anthony coach Rich Reichert picks up the series from there.

"The next play he gets a sack, then they run a trap and he blows up the fullback, and then on fourth down he blocks the punt," Reichert said. "It was pretty impressive."

Reichert gave Vallone the ultimate compliment by starting him as a sophomore for the Long Island football powerhouse.

"He was a three-year starter for us and we don't have sophomores start very often," said Reichert, "and he's the only guy we ever allowed to be a captain as a junior."

Because of his build, and affinity for the weight room, the long-term goal is to get Vallone to 285 pounds so he can be a dominant force in the middle.

Tom Luicci may be reached at


Copyright © 2008 The Star Ledger


 Item #2: Newark Sun-Ledger

RU Loses Star Philosophy Student to Harvard

Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Sun-Ledger Staff

Scott Dixon heard the noise but pretended not to notice. Inside the room Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust and Michael D. Smith, dean of the Harvard faculty, were trying their hardest to convince Dixon that Harvard was the place for him.

But if the racket was possible to ignore, the sight that appeared in the window was not. Out there in the parking lot of McNair Academic High School in Jersey City, N.J., a helicopter had landed. Moments later, star Rutgers philosopher Jerry Fodor and his colleague Stephen Stich emerged.

Dixon and the two Harvard administrators only had to look through the window to watch the splashy entrance.

Rutgers philosophers Jerry Fodor and Steven Stich landing in parking lot of McNair Academic High School. "Helicopter ploy" is reported to have failed ignominiously with McNair senior Scott Dixon.

“I glanced at the two of them to see how they were taking it,’” said Dixon, a senior who published his first article in The Review of Metaphysics as a high school sophomore. “They just kind of looked at each other and rolled their eyes.”

With double 800 scores on the SAT and a wide range of outside activities—theater, cross-country, orchestra, editor of the school newspaper—Dixon was, said Faust and Smith, the kind of New Jersey student Harvard most wanted to attract. But Dixon had been telling them that he’d decided to attend Rutgers.

“Harvard is a great university,” he said later, “but their philosophy department only ranks #7. Rutgers is always tied with Princeton and NYU for tops in the country. They’re fantastic in my area, philosophy of mind. For someone with my interests, it really seemed like there was no other choice.”

“We thought we’d lost him,” Harvard’s Smith later confided. “We really can’t compete with Rutgers in philosophy, and Scott is a New Jersey boy who naturally favored going to his own state university. It was only when Rutgers decided to come after him by helicopter that I knew we stood a chance.”

The splashy entrance, it turns out, made a difference.

“It was so incredibly crass,” Dixon said. “Not to mention the ear-splitting noise. When Fodor and Stich climbed out, I thought there must be some kind of crazy mistake. That’s the kind of thing a place like Florida State might do to try to impress some low-SAT football type. I mean, think about it: who must Fodor and Stich think I am if I’d be impressed by a vulgar stunt like that?”

It was good news for Harvard. Two days later, Dixon withdrew his application to Rutgers. “There are things just as important as philosophy,” he said in a recent phone call. “When a school is going after applicants who think it's cool to see recruiters climbing out of helicopters, you sort of get an idea what you could expect as a student there. I feel very comfortable with my decision to go to Harvard.”

Tim Luiccini may be reached at

Copyright © 2008 The Sun Ledger