Greg Schiano's eyes lowered and his voice strengthened. The Rutgers coach was just asked a question about senior defensive end Ryan Neill...

Share story

PHOENIX — Greg Schiano’s eyes lowered and his voice strengthened. The Rutgers coach was just asked a question about senior defensive end Ryan Neill.


“He’s as special a kid that I’ve every coached, not only as a football player who is very good but as a person,” said Schiano, lamenting that Tuesday’s Insight Bowl matchup with Arizona State marks the end of Neill’s Rutgers career.


Neill was born on the football field. Well, almost. His mother’s water broke on the sideline while watching his father, Bill, a New York Giants nose guard at the time, play at Giants Stadium.


Neill became the leader who took Rutgers to its first bowl game in 27 years — a two-time All-Big East first-team selection, a team MVP, an All-American and an Academic All-American.


All this after he tore his anterior, medial and posterior ligaments in his right knee in 2002, an injury doctors described as looking “like a bomb went off in his knee.”


The Arizona Republic