Alabama may be the powerhouse in college football these days, but it is a state school in New Jersey that has fostered a plethora of NFL talent.
Rutgers University has long been an institution soft on football history and served as a punching bag for the Big East basically from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s. Something changed though. An enterprising coach by the name of Greg Schiano was already immersed in the program and was slowly, but surely, building a winner.
The Scarlet Knights won 7 games in 2005, then exploded with an 11-2 showing the very next year, ending the season ranked 12th in the nation. Ever since, Rutgers has experienced a run of seasons in which 8 wins or more have been achieved all but once.
As the program has grown, the NFL has taken notice. One had to look no further than the New England Patriots or Tampa Bay Buccaneers at practice to ascertain that Rutgers players have found quite a home in football's highest professional level.
"There were former Rutgers players everywhere on the field on Tuesday, 18 in total, 9 for the Patriots, 9 for Tampa Bay, pretty impressive when you consider that yes [Greg] Schiano did deliver that program to greater heights," CSNNE's Mike Giardi said. "But they never won a national championship, let alone three that would make you think that many guys belonged out there. But clearly, they run a pro-style program there and that has benefited these guys as they head to the National Football League."
The ex-Scarlet Knights have taken notice as well. Tiquan Underwood, once a Patriot and now a Buccaneer, feels the presence of his alma mater everywhere he goes in the NFL.
It seems the invasion of talent from Rutgers has entrenched itself in the NFL and is here to stay.
"Every time I turned around there was someone knew that I hadn't seen in a while. It's a neat thing to see guys coming from Rutgers and making their way in the National Football League," Underwood said. "Every time we place someone, after the game, I'm saying hello to a former Rutgers guy, so it's pretty neat."