PISCATWAY - Chris Muller was sitting in class, halfway through his senior year of high school when he got the news that rocked his world. Greg Schiano was becoming the next coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The first thing he thought to do was call the quarterback of Rutgers' 2012 recruiting class, Blake Rankin. The two decided to call up the other recruits in the area and meet at Muller's house in Perkiomenville, PA, because it was the most central location for all five Pennsylvania recruits who had committed to Rutgers.
So running back Desmon Peoples and offensive lineman Brandon Arcidiacono made the drive from Archbishop Wood High School after school was out. The only recruit missing from the Keystone State was J.J. Denman, who Muller quipped "was with us in spirit."
"Honestly, it was a week before signing day so it was really hard for all of us because we were so set on Rutgers and coach Schiano for the longest time," Rankin told SNY.tv.
But Schiano wasn't the sole reason they chose Rutgers. There were also the core values, academics and each other.
So once the four met at the Muller residence they went to the local pizza joint - Pizza Cosmo - to come up with a game plan.
"We talked a little bit about football, about what we were going to do, but we all had our minds set. We all committed for the right reason to go here. We were pretty much all solid on our commitments to stay here," Muller said. "We just wanted to make sure everyone else was."
They were. There was just one stipulation: They were waiting until a new head coach was named. And they already knew whom they wanted the coach to be when Athletic Director Tim Pernetti started making his phone calls.
"He called us and was like 'we want you guys to stay' and we're like 'all right, well we want coach Flood. We're not going to sign until we know who the new head coach is, and preferably it's Flood. We're definitely going to sign on signing day if it is coach Flood,'" Arcidiacono said.
A day before national signing day, the players got what they'd hoped for when Flood was named the head coach, and they signed on to become the most highly-touted class in school history.
As a group, they'd overcome unforeseen adversities before they'd even stepped foot on the Banks to play football. It was an experience that will benefit this class in the long run.
"Having that happen to us was probably one of the greater things because it gave us a chance to stick together and build a bond that we have now," Peoples said. "And we're still building on that bond so it just brought us closer in the short amount of time before we got here."
It also helped them further understand some of Rutgers' core values. Like the F.A.M.I.L.Y. acronym seen posted all around the Hale Center and on wristbands worn by players, coaches, trainers and equipment staff.
"It made us all like a real family," Arcidiacono said. "All of us were so confused and so nervous if we were making the right choices, but then I remember calling [Derrick] Nelson and being like 'dude let's win a national title. If we go here and we work our tails off and we all stay because we're such a great recruiting class, work our tails off we can do it.' And he's like' yeah, we can, let's stay' and we all decided to stay and it made us all close so it really bonded us."