Last Wednesday you voted on the most complete defensive back in Rutgers Football history. Here are the results with some thoughts below and wow was it close as the poll is now closed.
Most complete defensive back in Rutgers Football history
This poll is closed
Gold: Devin McCourty. 35% of the vote, wow.
In the closest vote yet, Devin McCourty edged Deron Cherry by a single vote. It’s not a surprise that the All-Pro who has played in several Super Bowls leading the league’s best team’s defense year in and year out is in the conversation. What vaulted him into first place is likely how “complete” defensive backs need to be this day in age and Devin has no holes in his game. The fact that he starred at both cornerback and safety likely put him over the top.
As the highest defensive back draft choice in Rutgers Football history who started Day 1 at the next level, McCourty was not a guy who left the banks as a raw prospect. With very few bumps in his illustrious pro career his legacy in Rutgers and Patriots history continues to grow. He checked all the boxes in this poll and his medal is in the mail (assuming Duron Harmon doesn’t pick it before it gets there).
Silver: Deron Cherry. 34% of the vote.
It was good to see Cherry get recognition even though the younger generation of fans never saw him play. Being honored as a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team in the 1980s makes Deron arguably the greatest NFL player ever to come out of the Rutgers Football program regardless of position. The Palmyra High School product led a defense that helped the team finish 7-4 in 1980 and was named honorable mention All-America but was not drafted.
He started five pro bowls (and also played in a sixth), defying all odds as the Chiefs drafted three other safeties in the 1981 draft, but it was the free agent punter that re-joined the team in late September who rose to the top. Despite being known for his fierce hitting, Cherry does have 50 career NFL interceptions by far the most of any former Scarlet Knight (more than second and third place combined) but played in an era where he was not often guarding opposing speedsters one on one. For that reason, it may have been just enough doubt in voters minds that he was not the most “complete” defensive back in Rutgers Football history. A second possibility is that fans feel he improved so much at the NFL level, whereas Devin may have been the better player as a senior on the banks.
Bronze: Logan Ryan. 15% of the vote.
The most controversial result on this list was again a third place finisher who edged the 4th place finishers by a large margin. Logan Ryan is a very solid cover man in the National Football League and a case could be made for him being the best one on one cover guy at the next level in Rutgers Football history. This seems to be a case of voters recognizing how it is more challenging than ever to guard people based on the way NFL rules favor receivers today and rewarding Logan for it. During the 2017 playoff run, Ryan was considered by Pro Football Focus one of the highest graded players in the entire league. Though he has not played safety, conventional logic is that playing safety may be easier than corner and therefore if he needed to, could perform well at safety due to his well-rounded game.
Notable: Jay Bellamy only got 4% of the vote. With all the rest of the candidates, there was an obvious reason why voters may have not felt completely sold on their candidacy. (For example interceptions were more plentiful in certain eras than others.) Bellamy though played 14 seasons in the national football league at both safety positions, starting the second most games in the NFL of any former Rutgers player to Bill Pellington. Jay had 24 career interceptions with tremendous cover skills (plus over 600 recorded tackles), so my guess as to why he didn’t get more votes is because most who saw him play may also have seen Cherry. Since both played Safety in the NFL exclusively and Cherry received much more individual recognition, Jay did not garner as many first place votes, even though he may have been second or third on a large number of ballots.
Missing in action: Larry Clymer. Clymer seems to be a fan favorite of the readers of this site, particularly for his hitting. At the same time, Clymer is also one of the best ballhawks in school history. Point taken fans, it will not happen again!
At first when I saw the comment, it was surprising that Lorenzo Waters was mentioned. Waters was the lone member of the 2012 starting secondary that was not a senior (the four other guys played in the NFL), the only consistent member of the 2013 secondary, and topped his career off with a superhuman effort in the bowl win against North Carolina. So the more I thought about it, Lo was worth mentioning with many of these other solid players. Despite being in the conversation, Waters was more of the Malik Jackson type probably more suited to today’s “Big Nickel” packages as a hybrid linebacker who does not have the cover skills of a hybrid corner / safety type and therefore did not make the cut for this poll.
Thanks for participating and look for another opportunity to vote this Wednesday. The category this week is the most versatile player in Rutgers Football history! The hint for this week’s movie theme is ... a red pill. Here’s to a Wild Knight (or not)!
For all those who continue to vote, comment, and shake off criticism ...