Throughout the passing records at Rutgers, Mike Teel’s name is at the top or near the first line of nearly every major statistical category. When he signed his letter of intent to play “On the Banks” in February 2003, Teel became perhaps the most high-profile and prolific quarterback to commit to the program. His junior and senior seasons at north Jersey powerhouse Don Bosco were marked with state championships and all-state honors.
Now Teel, who was selected by the Seahawks in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL draft, will watch another passer from Bosco attempt to rewrite those record books at Rutgers.
Two weeks ago, coveted quarterback Gary Nova verbally committed to Rutgers, a decision he later said came after a long discussion with his parents. Nova had reopened his recruitment in December, following the removal of Dave Wannstedt as Pittsburgh’s head coach. The highly regarded three-star recruit had committed to the Panthers in late May, turning down a hard-pressed charge from Rutgers and head coach Greg Schiano.
Today, when Nova signs his Letter of Intent, Rutgers will get their quarterback of the future. One that fits perfectly into a pro-style offense.
“Gary and I have developed a relationship over the past few years and we talk regularly,” Teel told Metro. “I’ve always tried to reach out to him to offer help and advice because I’ve been through it all, everything he is going through I’ve gone through. I never tried to push him to Rutgers though because he needed to make up his own mind and come to his own conclusion. With that being said, I’m pleased with the decision he made.”
The irony is that Nova will be called on to replace another player whom Teel has grown tight with, Tom Savage.
It was Savage who committed to the program just days before the annual spring game in 2008, a four-star recruit who would wind up being just the second ever Rutgers commit to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. In January, Savage transferred from the program after a 4-8 season where he lost the starting spot to true freshman Chas Dodd, a player whose only FBS offer came from Rutgers during his recruitment.
Teel says that he talked with Savage regularly over the past difficult year as he tried to help the former Rutgers quarterback through trying times.
“I don’t know what led Tom to leave Rutgers, probably a bunch of different things and I’m sure it will be things we will never know or understand. He had to make the decision that was right for him,” Teel said.
“And I do know that wherever he goes, Tom Savage will be a success. He’s a great kid.”
Savage is rumored to be looking seriously only at FBS programs and has been linked to Tennessee, Miami and Vanderbilt among others. While Savage had hinted at a possible transfer late this season, his decision to leave a program he eagerly embraced and had become the face of before even matriculating was still a shock move. Doubling the head-scratcher behind the move was the announcement late last week that Rutgers had hired former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti for the same position at the Jersey school. The pro-style offense Cignetti favors would have seemed to be a good fit for Savage, who struggled in Rutgers current offensive mess.
But it all works out well for Nova who might be able to challenge for a starting position almost instantly at Rutgers. The quarterback, who turned down offers from the likes of Boston College, Colorado and Vanderbilt while recently drawing strong interest from Al Golden at Miami, has outstanding footwork and a polished game. As a junior, Nova led Don Bosco to a national championship and the team was 24-0 with him as a starter.
Teel, who redshirted his first year at Rutgers, sees Nova as a player who could potentially start immediately.
“Probably a bit more polished then Chas,” Teel said. “But he has a lot of work to do.”
Some of that “work” for Nova included the recruiting trail, where his defection to Rutgers has led several prized recruits to follow him to Piscataway. In addition, Bosco has a deep and talented junior class which is already starting to pull in offers from major BCS programs. The hope for Schiano and Rutgers is that the class of 2012 will follow Nova to Rutgers.
The fact that Teel was the last major Bosco commit to Rutgers doesn’t speak of a bias against the state school, the quarterback says. Teel vehemently states that Bosco head coach Greg Toal is a man of character and would never let any personal feelings – and Teel says there is no hatred from his former coach against Schiano or Rutgers – from getting in the way of what is best for a player.
Which means Nova might be ready for an impact on the field as a possible starter, but also off of it as a recruiter.
“That’s coach Schiano’s best asset right now, Gary Nova,” Teel said. “Gary will recruit those Bosco guys. Coaches can say a lot of things to try and get a player to come to a school but when a teammate, a guy who was in your locker room says those things, it carries more weight. And Gary will say those things to those guys.”