Belichick praises Schiano’s football program
Posted on December 12, 2011 by Keith Sargeant
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has kept close tabs on the Rutgers football program through the years. (AP photo)
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has made no secret of his affinity for the Rutgers football program through the years. Whether it’s wearing a Rutgers sweat jacket during Super Bowl week, speaking at Greg Schiano’s coaching clinic, or simply employing numerous Scarlet Knights through the years, Belichick clearly is one of the Scarlet Knights’ most famous supporters.
Of course, that support was racheted up this season when his son, Stephen, decided to walk-on to the football team after spending the previous four years with the lacrosse squad.
Three former Scarlet Knights — cornerback Devin McCourty, defensive back Nate Jones and wideout Tiquan Underwood — are current contributors on New England’s 53-man roster, and another, defensive end/linebacker Alex Silvestro, participates on the practice squad.
Earlier this week, when a reporter pressed him on his ”confidence” in players coming from Rutgers, Belichick offered this thoughtful response:
“Coach Schiano, I have a good relationship with him and anytime he’s told me anything, it’s always been 100 percent accurate,” Belichick said. “A player that he’s familiar with, I would definitely want to take the opportunity to get his opinion and see what he thinks because of his experience and the amount of respect I have for him. He does a great job with that program and the kids that come out of there that play in the NFL, usually end up playing (for a long time) in the NFL.
“A lot of colleges get guys drafted or signed or whatever. I’d say that program, most of those kids when they’re on a team, they end up making a team. That’s a credit to what he puts them through for four or five years there in terms of preparation for the National Football League, assuming they have enough talent to be competitive. He does a good job of that.”
Asked whether he keeps track of which schools produce players that succeed in the NFL, Belichick offered:
“It’s probably like a lot of things, you think about it and then you think about it a little bit more and then before you know it, it’s not coincidence anymore (and) it seems like there are enough numbers to back it up. With that program, and not everybody is Ray Rice — I’m not saying that — but they’ve had a lot of guys (stick in the NFL). And being in the facility, most colleges you walk through and you see all the pro players are up on a board, their pictures, the team they’re with or whatever. You go down to Florida and there are like 2,000 players, it seems like. Every team has like 50 players that have played there over the last 10, 20 years.
“I’m just saying when you walk through the Rutgers facility, you look at the names — there aren’t too many guys who have come out of there that have gotten cut. Once they get to a team, they usually end up sticking on a team. I guess it kind of just, one of those things you sort of notice and then you take a closer look at it and it’s pretty much what it is.”
When he spoke at Schiano’s coaching clinic in April 2009, Belichick told me: “I have all the respect in the world for Greg and the program that he runs here. This is a tremendous program. I’ve seen them all and this is as good as any. He does a good job. His players are well-coached, they’re smart, tough, and they have a lot of guys in the NFL that have stayed in the NFL. Some guys get drafted on talent; some guys stay because they work hard and they know how to be a professional player. And that’s part of what they learn here. They learn to play football.”
Belichick, who watched Rutgers play at Louisville from the sideline earlier this season, guided the Patriots to a 34-27 win over Washington on Sunday. Underwood hauled in one reception for seven yards, McCourty totaled eight tackles and three passes defended, and Jones had a tackle as New England improved to 10-3 and Belichick raised his career mark to 172-97 (.639).