To bolster their secondary, the Scarlet Knights signed a pair of 5-foot-10 defensive backs in Kessawn Abraham and Christian Izien, both of whom were defensive backs on this season’s Erasmus Hall program, which reached the PSAL Football Championship for a fourth consecutive year.
Rutgers also added Matt Thomas, a defensive lineman from Midwood High School.
Abraham, who will enroll to Rutgers in January and begin practice in March, recorded two interceptions for the Dutchmen this season, while also catching two touchdown passes on offense.
Abraham is also a standout in both indoor and outdoor track, where he won the PSAL City Championship in the triple jump in May.
Izien had 65 tackles and five interceptions on defense, and had punt return scores in back-to-back outings against DeWitt Clinton and Fort Hamilton.
As a senior at E-Hall, he scored six touchdowns as a whole, including two on defense, two on offense, and the returns on special teams. Izien was also named Wide Receiver MVP at the Future Phenom Showcase.
For Midwood, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Thomas recorded 47 tackles and nine sacks during the season. Appearing at tight end, Thomas also caught a receiving touchdown on the offensive side of the ball for the Hornets, who lost to Erasmus Hall in round two of the PSAL Playoffs.
Rutgers head coach Chris Ash and his staff have had recent success bringing in players from New York City, including a number of products from Brooklyn and Queens who suited up for the Scarlet Knights in 2017, including Deonte Roberts from Erasmus Hall, Blessuan Austin from Campus Magnet, and Kamaal Seymour and Olakunle Fatukasi from Grand Street Campus.
Ash spoke on his willingness to bring in players from New York, citing E-Hall head coach Danny Landberg by name.
“I think it starts with Danny Landberg, the head coach does an outstanding job with those guys,” said Ash on signing day. “We’re really blessed to have outstanding high school football here in our state and the surrounding states.”
Ash specifically praised Landberg’s ability to develop young football stars, along with putting together a consistent power.
“He’s developed the players, and we’re fortunate that we’ve been able to get some of them,” Ash said. “I think he does a great job, just like so many other coaches in our area.”
Rutgers has gone 10-26 over the last three seasons, and has not reached a bowl game since defeating North Carolina in the Quick Lane Bowl in 2014, their first season in the Big Ten.