Yesterday was National Bald Eagle day and the players that patrol the skies of a football field are the defensive backs. Rutgers has had a solid tradition at both cornerback and safety, particularly in recent years. The school even earned the nickname “DBU” due to their NFL pipeline, most benefiting the perennial Super Bowl favorite New England Patriots. So to make this succinct, we want to know who you think is the most “complete” defensive back in Rutgers Football history.
Qualifications for most complete include coverage, leadership, tackling, and speed. Bonus points for special teams prowess and big play ability. Here are this week’s contenders with a little help from 2018’s favorite game show: The Running Man!
Logan Ryan has the advantage of playing both outside and slot corner at Rutgers which prepared him well for the NFL. Though he has never lined up at safety, you’d think he could. Lined up man on man at the line, he shut down everything.
Devin McCourty was a cornerback in the NFL until Bill Belichick decided he’d rather have his most reliable DB at the safety position. Previously, he was a Pro Football Weekly All-American at Rutgers. He blocked three kicks in his career and returned a kick for a 98 yard touchdown.
Jason McCourty keeps on contributing at cornerback in the NFL, a position usually reserved for spring chickens. Remember that he played as a true freshman while his twin brother redshirted which is 14 consecutive seasons as a starting cornerback not even counting high school at St. Joseph’s (Montvale). He was also a solid kick returner, finishing second in the Big East as a senior.
Nate Jones was initially a running back at Rutgers before switching full time to cornerback. He gets bonus points for special teams talent, especially kick returning where he was more explosive than either of the McCourtys, returning two kickoffs 100 yards to the house. He played virtually every defensive back position in the National Football league. He also blocked three kicks in his college career.
Jay Bellamy. He played corner at RU, safety in the pros. His 14 years in the NFL is the second most for any former Rutgers player, even though he never played for the Patriots. He returned a few punts as a senior having shown some ability to gain a few yards including a pick six as a freshman.
Deron Cherry. This guy played punter and defensive back. As a DB, he and Ken Smith were both honorable mention All-Americans at the position in 1980. Maybe not national champion, but he was on the NFL 1980s all -decade team.
Henry Jenkins was the first All-American defensive back (1976) at Rutgers in over fifty years. Jenkins set the all-time punt return yardage record (despite only playing two years at RU), and still remains in second place more than 40 years later. Plus, his team did go undefeated in 1976.
Ed Jones is tied for the all-time interception record at Rutgers with 14. Jones played one season in the NFL where he made three INTs and was named to the All-Rookie team, starting every game he played. He gets the nod over the other kings of the INT considering his pro career north of the border.
Tony Pawlik gets the nod for this spot because he shares the all-time interception record with teammate Ed Jones in only a three-year career whereas John Pollock had four seasons, though Pollock did bunch the picks together in an amazing nine in one season. Both players had similar punt return averages, though Pollock has more returns.
Bill Austin. Wait a second ... are we talking about the running back? Yes. The two-way standout also set the interception record at Rutgers with 13 which has since been only raised once. He was also an All-American in lacrosse.
Jack Grossman was Rutgers’s first All-American defensive back all the way back in 1931. Grossman as those who read the site often or follow Rutgers Football history know is the only Rutgers alum we know of that played professional soccer (in Latin America), football (NFL), and minor league baseball. In the NFL he played running back as players all played both sides of the ball back then.
Check out the all-time interception leaders here. Colgate really should stick to keeping the ball on the ground against Rutgers should they ever square off again. And special teams comes in handy, too.
So who do you choose?
Who did we miss? Did we egregiously omit your answer such as Joe Lefeged or Duron Harmon? Harold Young was an Honorable Mention All-American, what about him? Are you outraged Anthony Cioffi’s versatility is not getting more love? Go vote and leave us thoughts in the comments section!
Most complete defensive back in Rutgers Football history
This poll is closed