Decorated quarterbacks in Rutgers' history
The Rutgers football team holds a special spot in the now-150-year history of college football. It was at the site of the College Avenue Gymnasium on Nov. 6, 1869, where Rutgers College defeated its Route 1 rival Princeton University (formerly known as the College of New Jersey) 6-4 in the first-ever football competition at the collegiate level.
Fast forward 150 years to 2019. In more than 1.5 centuries, the Scarlet Knights have endured the ups and downs of any other collegiate football program. Many student athletes have made the journey to the Banks, moving up the gridiron ladder from the high school to the highly competitive collegiate level.
Perhaps no other position in any level of football, though, is analyzed and discussed among fans and even non-fans than the quarterback position. They have always been in the limelight as ambassadors of their teams.
If there was a position job description for incoming freshman signal callers, it would emphasize the ability to be the voice of the offense. For these five Rutgers quarterbacks and many others, they were the epitome of this, leading their teams to bowl appearances, winning records and national awards to cement their legacies.
With that being said, here are five Knights to take snaps under center for Rutgers:
Alumnus quarterback Bert Kosup was one of the Knights’ offensive leaders during Rutgers’ last undefeated season in 1976.
In ‘76, the Knights went 11-0 as an independent program unaffiliated with a conference at the time.
Kosup quarterbacked the then-No. 17 Rutgers team to outscore its opponents by 206 total points at the end of the ‘76 season.
Under former head coach Frank R. Burns, the Knights were deemed national champions by the Dun Herm poll. Kosup threw for 1,098 passing yards as Rutgers’ first quarterback in NCAA Division I era.
He completed his four years on the Banks with 25 touchdowns and is ninth on the program’s all-time scoring and passing list.
One of Kosup’s finest moments on the Banks came in 1977, when he threw a 95-yarder to alumnus wide receiver George Carter against Temple.
In 39 game appearances between 1986 and 1989, Erney threw for 7,188 yards, fourth on the program’s all-time passing yards list.
A signature moment of Erney’s quarterback tenure was when Rutgers upset then-No. 14 Penn State in 1988, the last time it took down its Big Ten rival.
In that game, he went 9-20 and threw for 85 yards en route to a 21-16 upset over the team that Erney, a Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania native, grew up near.
During his senior season, Erney captured a 116.7 QBR and a career-high 15 touchdowns.
Before he spent seven seasons in the NFL with the New York Jets, New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins, alumnus quarterback Ray Lucas was a four-year letterwinner and started behind center from 1992-1995.
Lucas ranks sixth on the Knights’ all-time passing yards list, with 5,896 yards.
After redshirting in 1991, Lucas would make four starts in 1992, his first official start as quarterback. His most notable game that season was when he threw for 191 yards, accounting for approximately 61 percent of Rutgers' 313 total offensive yards, to lead the Knights over their former Big East rival West Virginia.
Lucas was also inserted into various lineups as a wideout and played on the special teams units.
"If they said 'Ray, after practice you're going to shine 87 helmets,' they were going to be some good-looking helmets," Lucas said, according to scarletknights.com. "If that's what I had to do to make the squad, I was willing to do anything."
In 1993, the Harrison, New Jersey native tallied 1,011 passing yards. But, during his senior season, Lucas was the Big East’s total offense leader, averaging more than 220 yards per game.
Heading into the 2000s, Lucas was the program’s leader in passing touchdowns with 43, before alumnus quarterback Ryan Hart broke his record with 52. Lucas is currently ranked fourth for this category.
Since 2010, Lucas, who was selected to the Rutgers Hall of Fame in 2017, has since returned to his roots as a football analyst for the Rutgers IMG Sports Network.
Alumnus quarterback Mike Teel was rated a two-star recruit by 247sports.com during his high school years at Don Bosco Prep, where he led the storied New Jersey football powerhouse to a 23-0 record under center. But, since redshirting in 2004, he has become one of the most prolific Rutgers student athletes.
In his freshman season on the Banks, Teel completed approximately 50 percent of his passes, finishing 2005 with two touchdowns in eight games played. But, the fall of 2006 would be one for the record books.
The Knights would start the season with an unblemished 8-0 record, with shutouts over Illinois and then-No. 24 Navy. During that stretch, they outscored their opponents 234-73.
On Nov. 9, 2006, in front of a nationally televised audience, then-No. 15 Rutgers shocked the nation by upsetting then-No. 3 Louisville 28-25, in a game that featured the likes of running backs Ray Rice and alumnus Brian Leonard, while current running backs coach Kolby Smith was on the losing end of the game, playing for the Cardinals.
Teel would throw for 189 yards and a touchdown in that game, one of the most memorable evening kickoffs in Rutgers’ history.
Another Don Bosco Prep product, alumnus quarterback Gary Nova set various program records and remains in the top five on the passing yards, touchdowns, completions and attempts leaderboards, to name a few.
After he was listed as the No. 1 quarterback in five games as a true freshman, Nova took the starters role in 2012, commanding the Knights to a Big East title in Kyle Flood’s first year as head coach.
Despite losing to Virginia Tech in the Russell Athletic Bowl that year, Nova finished the season with 22 touchdowns and 2,695 total passing yards. Against Arkansas on the road during the regular season, he threw 5 touchdowns.
Following a 2013 year where alumnus quarterback Chas Dodd earned the starters job under center, Nova earned his spot back as the No. 1 signal caller and led Rutgers to a Quick Lane Bowl win over North Carolina, in its first season as members of the Big Ten.
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