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Former Rutgers star gets his shot on the NFL stage

Quentin Gause sees his first NFL action with the defending Super Bowl champs as they embark on another run

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Penn State Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

For former Rutgers star linebacker Quentin Gause, the road to his potential first NFL regular season game this coming Sunday has been a long one. It started all the way back in kindergarten when he was diagnosed with a learning disability. While his classmates would work together, Gause would spend half his days working alone with a teacher, getting the extra attention he needed. While he didn't understand why he was different, and didn't like that he was being teased about it, Gause didn't buckle under the weight of what lay in front of him. Instead, he used it to motivate himself to prove all of his doubters wrong.

Fast forward a few years and Gause wasn't just a standout football player for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights . He was also winning off the field, holding down a 3.28 GPA and being named a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy, which recognizes the top scholar athlete in the nation. Just as it had taken Gause a few years to come into his own and excel in the classroom, the same was true for his football career.

In 2013, as a sophomore, Gause only saw action in various sub packages, compiling 53 tackles for the year and also contributing on special teams. By his junior year, however, Gause was beginning to make a name for himself. He started 11 games that season, finishing second on the team with 72 tackles and he followed that up with a senior year where he again finished second on the team with 96 tackles and was an honorable mention All Big Ten selection. Then, during Rutgers pro day, his results in the vertical jump, three-cone drill, 20-yard and 60 yard shuttles would've placed him fifth, fourth, third and first respectively based on what other linebackers did at the NFL Combine. He also would've been first in the bench press reps among all combine linebackers.

With a career and numbers like these, Gause figured to have a good shot at being selected in the NFL draft, but after more than 200 players were selected, Gause was still without a team, until the Philadelphia Eagles came calling. Despite a solid training camp and preseason with the team, Gause was among the final cuts, but was brought back to the Eagles practice squad, until they cut him again. From there, he went to the Patriots practice squad, was cut and then landed with the Broncos practice squad.

After all the hard work and moving around, Gause is finally getting his shot at the pros, as part of one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Broncos activated him to the 53-man roster prior to their loss to Tennessee last week. While Gause didn't register a tackle against the Titans, he could see his role increase over the final three weeks of the season because of a rash of injuries to other linebackers on the roster.

If Gause does get his shot, it will come at a critical time for the 8-5 Broncos who probably need to win out (vs. Patriots, at Chiefs, vs. Raiders) if they want to make the playoffs. The good news for the Broncos is that Gause excels in an area where the team is weak, run defense. After ranking third in the NFL last season (giving up 83 yards per game) the Broncos run defense is ranked 29th this season, allowing 127 yards per game. During his time at Rutgers, Gause was known as a strong run defender and he led the Scarlet Knights in tackles for a loss last season with 12. With two of their final three opponents ranked in the top 10 in rushing offense (Raiders and Patriots) Gause's call up couldn't have come at a better time.