Former Rutgers athletic director Bob Mulcahy once joked that he was going to have a wall built around the state so Joe Paterno and Penn State couldn’t recruit the best New Jersey high school players.
The wall was never built, so the raiding of NJ talent by the Nittany Lions and other national programs continues.
There seemingly are quarterbacks from the Garden State across the country.
Central Florida’s Brandon Wimbush, a Teaneck native who played at St. Peter’s Prep, and Tennessee’s Jarrett Guarantano, a redshirt junior from Lodi who starred at Bergen Catholic, played against each other in high school.
Now they’re pivotal players for two offenses that operate under the bright lights of big-time college football.
As another college football season begins Saturday, let’s look at the New Jersey players who are contributing to the major programs and young players on the brink of making themselves known.
Central Florida quarterback
Wimbush transferred from Notre Dame, where he threw for 2,606 yards and 20 touchdowns and ran for 1,155 yards and 16 TDS before losing his starter’s job after three games last season.
Guarantano begins his third season as Tennessee’s starter and he’s had a different offensive coordinator each season. He threw for 1,907 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2018, while throwing only three interceptions.
Boston College quarterback
Brown, who starred at St. John Vianney, threw for 2,121 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2018 after missing much of the previous season because of a knee injury.
DeVito, a redshirt sophomore from Don Bosco, becomes the full-time starter at Syracuse after Eric Dungey, released by the Giants in training camp, moved on. QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh
Pickett, a senior from Ocean Township, threw for 1,969 yards and 12 touchdowns last season for Pitt.
Wisconsin running back
The Wisconsin running back grew up in Salem in Southern Jersey, the same hometown as Ron Dayne, who led the country in rushing yardage at Wisconsin and was a Heisman Trophy winner and first-round draft choice of the Giants.
Taylor has rushed for 4,171 yards and 29 TDs in his first two seasons. He’ll need a super season to surpass Dayne, who rushed for 7,125 yards during his time in Madison.
Pittsburgh wide receiver
Ffrench, a senior wide receiver from New Brunswick, caught 10 TD passes as a junior and accounted for 1,224 all-purpose yards. He caught a 25-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds remaining to beat Duke.
Penn State wide receiver
Shorter, a five-star recruit from South Brunswick who is dripping with potential, was redshirted last season. The Nittany Lions think the 6-foot-4, 235-pound wideout has all the skills needed to be a big-time player,
Penn State offensive lineman
Fries, a junior from Cranford, is one of two Penn State starting offensive linemen from Jersey. Fries is a 6-foot-6, 313-pound left tackle.
Penn State offensive lineman
Gonzalez, the other Penn State offensive line starter from the Garden State, is a redshirt senior from Union City. He’s a 6-foot-4, 341-pound left guard.
Boston College offensive lineman
Boston College’s Ben Petrula, a junior from Freehold who played at St. Peter’s, was selected to the all-ACC preseason first team. He played center in his freshman season before moving to right tackle last season. He’s 6-5, 310 pounds.
Jayson Ademilola and Justin Ademilola
Notre Dame defensive ends
Notre Dame looks to the Ademilola twins from Jackson, who played at St. Peter’s, as possible defensive line starters in the near future.
Jayson, a 288-pound defensive end, had 18 tackles and a half sack last season and Justin, a 250-pound defensive end, was involved in 10 tackles before he was redshirted.
Ohio State defensive end
The former Bergen Catholic star arrived at Ohio State as a 215-pound outside linebacker.
After a redshirt season in which he was on a daily diet of 6,800 calories, he’s now a 245-pound defensive end. He had an exceptional spring game performance.
The redshirt senior from Paterson is coming off his best season at Pittsburgh. The former Paramus Catholic standout had a season-high five tackles in four different games (including Clemson and Notre Dame). He adjusted to playing middle linebacker after switching from outside linebacker.
Notre Dame linebacker
Notre Dame sees a lot of promise in Simon, a 232-pound linebacker from West Orange and St. Peter’s.
Boston College linebacker
The former DePaul star was credited with 10 tackles and a sack in three games before Boston College decided to redshirt him.
Ohio State safety
The Ohio State safety, who prepped at Old Tappan, is a third-year starter and twice captain for the Buckeyes. The Associated Press named him to their second team preseason All-American team.
Boston College safety
The Westwood product has returned for a graduate season at Boston College, hoping to contribute to a successful BC season.
Originally recruited as a wide receiver, he moved to safety two seasons ago. He played in 11 games last season, primarily as a special teamer. His biggest contribution was blocking a Louisville punt, a play that resulted in a BC touchdown.