With Greg Schiano out of the picture for a return to Piscataway, the Rutgers Athletics Department is shifting its attention to a B1G assistant as a potential candidate for the head coaching vacancy.

Tuesday, James Kratch of NJ.com reported that Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley, is now a strong candidate for the job at Rutgers. He’s now one of the top targets for athletic director Pat Hobbs, according to the report.

Hafley is a native of Montvale, N.J., and has experience working in the area. In 2011, Hafley was the secondary coach at Rutgers on Schiano’s staff. He followed the head coach to the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he held the same position in 2012 and 2013.

Before arriving at Ohio State this season, Hafley had stops with the Cleveland Browns (2014-15) and San Francisco 49ers (2016-18), serving as a secondary coach for both organizations.

This season, Hafley has helped completely transform Ohio State’s defense, which ranks at the top in college football in scoring defense (10.5 points per game allowed), total defense (217.4 yards per game allowed) and pass defense (126.2 yards per game allowed).

The one concern with Hafley is that he has no head coaching experience, which was also the case when Rutgers hired former Ohio State defensive coordinator Chris Ash. Hafley does have connections to the New Jersey area, but the lack of experience leading a program may be a red flag for the Scarlet Knights.

But with 2019 coming to a close and Schiano off the table, Rutgers is limited on time and options.

Rutgers is 2-9 this season and is likely to go winless in B1G play for the third time in four seasons. The Scarlet Knights have not played in a bowl game since 2014. They round out their 2019 season Saturday against Penn State.

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