Flipping through an old Rutgers football media guide is an experience.
Even if scrolling in PDF form.
You’ll come across Greg Schiano on the cover of the 2001 edition – in a white polo that neither begins nor ends before a white background – as he entered his first year as the Scarlet Knights’ head coach after three years with the Chicago Bears and two with the Miami Hurricanes.
It reads, “It’s Time,” with a logo of the team’s scarlet helmet eclipsing the all-caps “RUTGERS.”
You’ll find identical twins from Nanuet, N.Y., as part of the incoming 2005 recruiting class, too, and learn or recall that both Devin McCourty and Jason McCourty started in the backcourt on a St. Joseph Regional High School basketball team that went 26-2.
You’ll also see many more names from the New England Patriots’ past and present at a rate not seen anywhere else.
At least not over the course of Schiano’s final four seasons with the program.
Prior to becoming head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and later, the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Ohio State, Schiano oversaw what proved to be a 240-mile pipeline up Interstate 95.
Those four Rutgers seasons gave way to three bowl wins and media guides that featured a total of 19 players who went on to stop in with the Patriots.
Now, Schiano finds himself set to do the same as the defensive signal-caller following Brian Flores’ Miami Dolphins departure. And with the reported rekindling comes an excuse to dust off the list of eventual Patriots on Rutgers’ rosters.
Especially those between 2008 and 2011. That stretch marked the heyday.
FUTURE PATRIOTS IN 2008-2011 RUTGERS MEDIA GUIDES
- Tiquan Underwood, wide receiver
- Mark Harrison, wide receiver
- Kenny Britt, wide receiver
- Tim Wright, wide receiver
- Kevin Haslam, offensive lineman
- Justin Francis, defensive lineman
- Scott Vallone, defensive lineman
- Jonathan Freeny, defensive lineman
- Alex Silvestro, defensive lineman
- Quentin Gause, linebacker
- Kevin Snyder, linebacker
- Steve Beauharnais, linebacker
- Jeremy Deering, defensive back
- Duron Harmon, defensive back
- Brandon Jones, defensive back
- Logan Ryan, defensive back
- Devin McCourty, defensive back
- Jason McCourty, defensive back
- Stephen Belichick, long snapper
Four of whom were drafted by head coach Bill Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio’s Patriots war room. Then-cornerback Devin McCourty arrived in the first round in 2010. Fellow corner Logan Ryan, safety Duron Harmon and linebacker Steve Beauharnais, meanwhile, all had their cards filled out in 2013.
Converted tight end Tim Wright was acquired via trade from the Buccaneers along with a fourth-round pick in exchange for longtime left guard Logan Mankins in 2014. Then came 10-year NFL veteran Jason McCourty from the Cleveland Browns in a swap of sixth- and seventh-rounders last March.
The rest of the 19 signed on as free agents of either the undrafted, unrestricted or – in the case of linebacker Jonathan Freeny – non-tendered variety. And several of whom saw their stints come in the offseason or on the practice squad.
Only the McCourty twins, Harmon and safeties coach Steve Belichick – a lacrosse letterman who walked on as a senior long snapper – were still in the Patriots’ fold for Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Time will tell how many will remain next fall.
The Rutgers-to-Patriots pipeline no longer is what it once was. But whatever it once was, it sure was something.
And a glance through Schiano’s 2008-2011 rosters may never be rivaled.