Eric LeGrand’s Number First to Be Retired by Rutgers Football
By Elizabeth Grimsley
The football game that had Rutgers pegged against Princeton in 1869 is considered by most to be the first collegiate football game. You would think that such a historic program would have more than a handful of famous players gracing the walls of their hall of fame and numbers scattered along the stadium awnings.
That’s not the case.
Until Sept. 14 at the Scarlet Knights’ game against Eastern Michigan, no number had been retired by the 144-year-old program. But on Saturday one number, No. 52, will now live as the sole retired number in High Point Solutions Stadium.
No. 52 belongs to Eric LeGrand, a defensive tackle who played for Rutgers from 2008-2010 when he was paralyzed in a game against Army on Oct. 16. The injury came on a routine play. LeGrand collided with the ball carrier after a kickoff, was credited with the tackle but didn’t get back up from the grass. He was later carted off the field, only able to move his head.
Three years later LeGrand has regained a lot of movement in his shoulders and arms and can feel throughout his body, and he still hopes to one day be able to walk again on his own. It’s been a whirlwind few years for LeGrand with the highlight coming in the 2012 draft where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed him to a symbolic contract as an undrafted free agent — a similar story to that of Georgia baseball’s Jonathan Taylor who was paralyzed in a collision with teammate Zach Cone in a game in 2011.
Since his injury, LeGrand has bee optimistic about his recovery, saying to fans during the halftime presentation, “Help me get back on my feet and walk again. Always remember each and every day — believe! It’s in me and it’s in you guys, too.”
“Believe” is the word that LeGrand lives by and has been living by since before his injury. In the past few years, “it’s been the fuel pushing him past what any doctor predicted and the path carrying to goals unimaginable. Believe has been the difference between who he was and what he has become.” A fund entitled “bELieve” has even been started by the Rutgers Scarlet Knight family with all proceeds going towards LeGrand and his own family.
Even after all he’s been through, LeGrand is keeping a positive mindset — one that he instilled on all of the onlookers at Saturday’s game. No. 52 could be seen throughout the crowd on everything from jerseys to posters. A former teammate of LeGrand’s, Jamaal Westerman, now a defensive end for the Buffalo Bills, shares his same optimism.
“[I] can’t wait to see the day you walk on the field again,” Westerman said. “Now you go down in history. I can’t think of anyone who deserves more to have their jersey retired.”
The game finished on a high note for Rutgers, as the team went on to defeat Eastern Michigan 28-10.
It’s the first and probably one of the last numbers to be retired for the Scarlet Knights. Now the large No. 52 will hang above the upper left box of the stadium forever, and LeGrand will never be forgotten.
“Frogs want to make statement against Red Raiders” is a good advance of the Texas Christian University versus Texas Tech game because it states all the facts readers would want to know about the game. Matt Jennings tells the reader what some of TCU’s goals are for the game, what Texas Tech is going to bring to the game and some of the key players on the team that will need to shine in order for the Horned Frogs to win. It also includes the simple information such as game time and day, TV channel and some key stats for both teams from the season so far.
This advance of Central Florida’s game at Penn State is a different type of advance from the one above. This piece is more of an analysis of the different parts of the two teams and how they will stand up to each other at this weekend’s game. Paul Tenorio writes about some key players, how the defenses stack up and some important stats from the season so far. Unlike the story above, there are no quotes or opinions from outside sources like players or coaches. This piece is all about the basic facts and getting down to who technically has the edge.
Cardinals’ Relatively Easy Schedule Not to Be Taken Lightly
By Elizabeth Grimsley
The Louisville Cardinals’ football team flew under the radar for the majority of 2012 before finding themselves in a BCS bowl game at the conclusion of the season. The Cardinals went on to beat the heavy-favorite Florida Gators 33-23.
This year, the Louisville squad started out the season ranked No. 8 in both the AP Top 25 and the USA Today Poll. Looking at the 2013 schedule for the Cardinals, there is a very good chance of the team making their way back to another BCS bowl game come January.
In a conference such as the Big East — one that most college football fans don’t care too much about — it will be harder for Louisville to make up ground against some of the more well-known and talked about teams in CFB this year. It’s certainly no Alabama, but the team showed they shouldn’t be overlooked after finishing ranked No. 13 for the 2012 season.
However, with the way the rankings are designed, Louisville will have to not only win against their opponents this season but by a significant margin as well if they want to continue to move up in the polls. And according to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, “Your focus should never shift no matter who you’re playing.” The team isn’t going to take any opponent lightly whether it be Eastern Kentucky or Cincinnati.
Facing teams such as Florida International University or Eastern Kentucky and only coming out on top by a touchdown or a few field goals isn’t going to cut it. The Cardinals are already on their way though, as they opened the season with a 49-7 win over Ohio.
Although there aren’t any visible threats on the schedule this season, the Cardinals can’t rest on their laurels. If Louisville wants a repeat of last year — or something even better — they not only have to win football games, but leave their opponents in the dust.