CB Devin McCourty has played a major role in the resurgance of Rutgers (Photo by Duncan Williams)
Rutgers Looks for 15th Win in 17 Games on Saturday
Piscataway, N.J. (Friday, November 20, 2009) – After a 31-0 thrashing of South Florida last week, Rutgers University finds itself back in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and will takes its #25 ranking into Syracuse this Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. date with the Orange. The Scarlet Knights, who currently sit at 7-2 on the season, head into upstate New York looking for their 15th win in 17 games.
“I think the possibility of being able to play in five bowl games since I’ve been here is just phenomenal,’’ fifth-year senior cornerback Devin McCourty said in a recent interview with the Scarlet Report. “When we went to that first bowl game, you just walked with a hoodie on or something. When people would come up and say ‘thank you,’ you start realizing what it means to be winning around here."
Already deemed bowl eligible for the season, Rutgers has basically guaranteed itself a fifth straight trip to the postseason. The only two losses for the Scarlet Knights this season are an opening day loss to #5 Cincinnati and a midseason match-up with #8 Pittsburgh. Rutgers Stadium, who formerly had a tall task of garnering decent attendance numbers, now sells out every game and had to construct a multi-million dollar expansion project this past offseason to accommodate its newfound popularity. Much of the thanks in this facelift can be accredited to head coach Greg Schiano, who came to Piscataway in 2001.
“Our identity changed midway through our time here at Rutgers," Schiano remarked this week to the Philadelphia Inquirer. "We went in a little bit different direction. We still have a four down front, but in 2005 we kind of went in another direction schematically."
Needless to say, the Scarlet Knights have been building a strong tradition since Schiano came to town, and that has been helping drastically with recruiting. While Rutgers may have struggled in years past, high school recruits nowadays only know of a winning program in Piscataway.
“It’s something where you build a tradition around here, and it’s like, ‘All right, you’re going to a bowl game at the end of the year,’” right tackle Kevin Haslam commented to the Scarlet Report. It never really came to mind that we’re not going to go."
Things appear to only be getting better as the Scarlet Knights head forward, with a young talent-laden roster and upcoming recruitment classes ranked amongst the tops in the nation.