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Friday Fives: Best football players in Rutgers history

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To help with your withdrawal of football, we're introducing a new series that ranks various aspects of Rutgers Football leading up to the season opener against Norfolk State. Previously, we have looked at some of the best and worst uniforms since the 2001 rebranding. This week, we will take a look at the best players to ever suit up for the Scarlet Knights.

5. Marco Battaglia, TE, 1992-1995

Leonard was the main piece in the rebuilding of the Rutgers program. He truly was a "Swiss army knife" player. He was a tough, down hill runner and was incredibly deadly catching passes out of the backfield. He has made numerous signature plays including his catch and run to set up the game winning field goal against Louisville.
In terms of national recognition, Marco Battaglia was truly one of the best. He was a consensus first-team All-American and started and finished the season being known as the best tight end in the country. Very few players in the history of Rutgers have been selected to the first team and every major news outlet had Battaglia as the best. As a TE, Battaglia appears in the top-10 on Rutgers record boards in major receiving categories such as career yards, receptions, touchdowns, and 100-yard games. He also shares the record for most single-season touchdowns with Brandon Coleman, hauling in 10 scores in the 1995 season.

4. Anthony Davis, LT, 2007-2009

I realize this may not be a very popular pick, as I could've gone with a player like Alex Kroll. However, Davis was the 11th overall pick for a reason. He was simply dominant at the college level. He was huge, athletic, an overall beast. If you were a defensive end with NFL dreams, you might as well not step on the field against Davis if you want a shot at getting drafted. In fact, Jason Pierre-Paul can thank Davis for helping him be a top-15 pick. JPP made his money against Rutgers while Anthony Davis was busy embarrassing George Selvie, who was once one of the best pass-rushers in the country. JPP went 15th overall while Selvie went in the 7th round. Both DEs are pretty successful today but Selvie definitely lost money when he went against Davis. Davis is a guy who ruins careers and is consistently on his A-game. Every time he suited up and started a game, he was the best player on the field and played like it. He is no doubt deserving of a spot on this list.

3. Brian Leonard, HB/FB, 2003-2006

Leonard was the main piece in the rebuilding of the Rutgers program. He truly was a "Swiss army knife" player. He was a tough, down hill runner and was incredibly deadly catching passes out of the backfield. He has made numerous signature plays including his catch and run to set up the game winning field goal against Louisville and his touchdown run against Illinois in 2005. He was a fan favorite and never left a doubt that he gave 110% every time he put on shoulder pads. When Ray Rice stepped on campus, Leonard stepped out of the spotlight and helped pave way for the greatest running back in school history. He was a selfless leader who also had an uncanny ability to find the endzone. He played every game like it was his last and any one who was fortunate enough to watch him play can easily understand why he is one of the all-time greats. Guys like Leonard just don't come around that often.

2. Paul Robeson, End, 1915-1919

As good as he was at football, that was only a small part of who Paul Robeson was. He was true renaissance man who happened to be a star on the football field. He was the only Rutgers player to be named a first-team All-American two consecutive years. Even though he was an All-American, he had to grind his way on to the team. He had limited opportunities due to race but still tried out for the team and overcame discrimination and other hardships to be at that time one of the greatest ends (tight end/receiver) to ever play football. Although no one reading this article ever saw Robeson play, his legacy still carries on and he is one of the more well-known players in the history of Rutgers.

1. Ray Rice, HB, 2005-2008

Before the "too soon" police roll out in full force, this list is based purely on on the field success. In that area, no one compares to what Ray Rice did for Rutgers. Rice broke countless records at Rutgers, including those of star RB JJ Jennings, who barely missed the cut for this list. In fact, he hold every single career rushing record except for YPC. Rice was one of the main players in the 2006 turnaround and his legacy is undeniable. He did things on the football field that Rutgers fans may never see again. His 2007-08 season was one for the ages as he ran for over 2,000 yards and 25 total touchdowns. Rice was one of the main pieces in maybe the greatest Rutgers team ever and had the best statistical season in Rutgers history. There is a very good chance that Rice remains at the top of this list for many, many years to come.

Honorable Mention: Bill Austin, JJ Jennings, Alex Kroll, Devin McCourty, Deron Cherry, Ray Lucas

Check out the other establishments of "Friday Fives" here.