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Tuesday, Sep 19, 2017
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Schiano has a knack to relate, motivate

TAMPA - As he dug deeper into Greg Schiano's background, Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik delved beyond the football field and into the classrooms at Rutgers University. There he found something he considered as impressive as the Scarlet Knights' 5-1 record in bowl games under Schiano. It was the Academic Performance Rating of Rutgers football players, who placed in the top three in the nation during each of Schiano's last four years at the school, according to the NCAA. Now, the rate at which players graduate from college may not seem like a strong indicator of a college coach's ability to succeed at the NFL level, but Dominik believes there is a strong tie-in to it.
The Rutgers graduation rate, which was tops in the nation in 2010 and second in 2011, tells Dominik that Schiano not only can relate to players but also motivate and discipline them in a way that produces positive results. "Because we have such a young football team, it's really important that he be able to get through to the players and motivate them," Dominik said at the time of Schiano's hiring. "What he did with the graduation rate at Rutgers is amazing.'' "What that tells me is that young people are listening to him and buying into what he believes in and what he says about how you grow and become a professional, and not just on the field but off the field.'' The APR denotes a team's academic success for each semester or quarter by tracking each student-athlete's eligibility, retention and graduation to provide a picture of the academic culture in each school and sport. The top score possible is 1,000. Rutgers football, which was the only BCS school to finish in the top three each of the last four years, according to the NCAA, posted scores of 992 in 2010 and 988 in 2011. Learning curve Bucs QB Josh Freeman was a guest last week on SeriusXM NFL Radio's "Movin the Chains'' show with hosts Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan. Freeman was asked what he learned most about himself during the 2011 season. His answer was interesting. After throwing 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions in a successful 2010, Freeman said he learned the dangers that come from trying to do too much when the team falls behind. "After a couple of losses started to mount up I felt like, 'Ah, I've got to do something. I have to do something to make a play, to keep us from falling behind more. I know what I am doing. I can make something happen,' " Freeman said. "It was like that confidence you built by working so hard may have just gone too far. "It ended up coming back to bite us and me personally. You can learn a lot from that. So, I have to find a happy medium. You can be aggressive but you have to protect that football first and foremost. You have to let the game come to you.'' Graduate this Schiano came to the Bucs with a reputation for not only graduating his players, but sending many of them to the NFL. The numbers there are rather impressive, as well. A total of 16 Scarlet Knights were drafted by NFL teams after Schiano took over at Rutgers in 2001. That includes 13 in the past five years, and it is almost certain to go up this year. The Scarlet Knights have eight eligible players in this year's draft, led by WR Mohamed Sanu, who is the sixth-ranked receiver in the draft, according to ESPN's draft tracker. The Rutgers program had never produced a first-round NFL pick before Schiano arrived, but three Knights – OT Anthony Davis, CB Devin McCourty and WR Kenny Britt – went in the first round in the past three drafts.

rcummings@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7979

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