When Greg Schiano arrived at Rutgers football ahead of the 2001 season, he made it a point of emphasis to make the special teams unit elite.
Rutgers quickly became a top-tier special teams unit, highlighted by speed (often from Florida) and with specialists who would go on to play in the NFL.
The role of special teams was huge for Rutgers then and now with Schiano’s return, it is becoming a key facet once again.
A look at the top special teams players that have ever put on the Rutgers uniform. Almost everyone on the list went on to play professional football.
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Punter: Adam Korsak
Adam Korsak of Rutgers punts the ball in the first half as Temple played Rutgers in the season opener at SHI Stadium in Piscataway, NJ on September 4, 2021.
The only member of any of the teams currently with the program. Here is a hot take alert: an argument could be made that Korsak is the top player at any position in Rutgers football history.
Kicker: Jeremy Ito
Nov 09, 2006; Piscataway, NJ, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights kicker (1) Jeremy Ito is carried off the field during post-game celebrations after defeating the Louisville Cardinals at Rutgers Stadium in Piscataway, NJ. Rutgers defeated Louisville 28-25. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith
For more than just the infamous kick against Louisville in 2006, Ito is one of the best special teams players in program history. Made 72 percent of all field goal attempts and just shy of 99 percent of all point-after attempts.
Kickoff Return: Jeremy Deering
Oct 8, 2010; Piscataway, NJ, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights wide receiver Jeremy Deering (18) catches a pass in the second half against the Connecticut Huskies at Rutgers Stadium. Rutgers won 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Jim O’Connor-USA TODAY Sports
Lost in a collegiate career where he played running back, wide receiver, Wildcat quarterback and eventually free safety, Deering was a tremendous kickoff returner. In 2011, he was fourth in the nation in kickoff returns at 31.2 yards per attempt.
Punt Returner: Janorion Grant
Sep 1, 2017; Piscataway, NJ, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights wide receiver Janarion Grant (1) catches a touchdown pass during the first half of their game against the Washington Huskies at High Point Solutions Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
He’s still doing it in the CFL. Grant was explosive on special teams and part of the offense. One of the best playmakers Rutgers has ever seen.
Head Coach: Greg Schiano
Yes, some will that there are other candidates (Frank Burns for sure), but there was only ever one name truly in consideration. He built Rutgers from a punchline into a contender and the hope is that Schiano can do it again.
Coach Greg Schiano on the sidelines in the first half as Temple played Rutgers in the season opener at SHI Stadium in Piscataway, NJ on September 4, 2021.
Temple Played Rutgers In The Season Opener At Shi Stadium In Piscataway Nj On September 4 2021
Honorary Captain: James Gandolfini
Dec 27, 2005; Phoenix, AZ, USA; James Gandolfini, the star of the Sapranos and alumni of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on the sideline before the Insight Bowl between the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri
Tony Soprano never had the makings of a varsity athlete. But Gandolfini was the perfect choice to represent Rutgers in 2005 at the Insight Bowl in what was a narrow loss to Arizona State.