Jeremy Lin: The 5 Best Ivy League Products in Pro Sports Today

Sam Schwartz@seschwartz365Correspondent IFebruary 20, 2012

Jeremy Lin: The 5 Best Ivy League Products in Pro Sports Today

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    Jeremy Lin has taken the basketball world by storm in just two weeks as an NBA starter. Over his stretch of success that began with a win over the Nets on February 4, Lin has led the league in points scored. 

    His status as a lovable underdog has turned him into the most talked about player today. Floyd Mayweather and many others tried to attribute Lin's sudden rise to his race, but he has proven that he is for real. 

    Not only is Lin the first American-born player of Taiwanese descent in NBA history, but the Harvard graduate is also the first Ivy League product to appear in the association since Chris Dudley of Yale retired in 2003. Lin, the owner of a number of a number of Crimson school records, is just one of a number of stellar professional athletes today that spent their college days in the Ivy League. 

    In this list I will go over the five best products, in no particular order, of the eight Ivy League schools that are playing at the highest level of professional sports today.   

Matt Birk, Harvard

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    A sixth-round pick of the Vikings out of Harvard in 1998, Matt Birk is a great player both on and off of the field.  Birk was an All-Ivy League and All-Division 1-AA honoree during his time with the Crimson.

    Regarded as one of the best centers of his era, Birk was selected to the Pro Bowl six times during his tenure with Minnesota. 

    After leaving the Vikings in 2008 following a six-year stretch of being honored as the franchise's Man of the Year, Birk joined the Ravens. 

    This past season, in the third year and final year of his $12 million contract with Baltimore, Birk earned the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.   

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Harvard

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    The 2004 Ivy League MVP as the quarterback of Harvard, Ryan Fitzpatrick had a breakthrough in the early parts of the 2011 season. 

    Before the 2005 draft, Fitzpatrick answered 48 out of 50 questions correctly on the Wonderlic test.  He was subsequently selected by the Rams in the final round of the draft. 

    Even though he threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns in his debut, Fitzpatrick was sent to the Bengals before the 2007 season.  He made a few starts in place of the injured Carson Palmer in 2008, with most of his success coming on the ground.

    Fitzpatrick signed with the Bills in 2009, where he took over the starting job in the early parts of the 2010 season. 

    In 2011, Fitzpatrick led Buffalo to a 5-2 start and was honored as the AFC Offensive Player of the Month in September.  The Bills quickly locked him in for the future, agreeing to a six-year contract extension worth $59 million.    

Chris Young, Princeton

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    A two-sport star during his days at Princeton, Chris Young chose to pursue baseball and made his MLB debut with the Rangers in 2004.

    At 6'10'', Young is one of the tallest players in baseball history. After a season and a half with Texas, Young became one of the most reliable starters in the National League during his tenure with the Padres that began in 2006.

    Pitching behind Cy Young award winner Jake Peavy, Young was just as dominant as his rotation mate. In fact, Young led the league in opposing batting average during both the 2006 and 2007 seasons. He was selected to the only All Star Game of his career in 2007.

    Young battled injuries for the remainder of his time with the Padres before joining the Mets prior to the 2011 season. Unfortunately, he hurt his arm in the early parts of the year and did not pitch again.

    Young is currently a free agent and is looking for a place to bring his career back to its glory.

Mark DeRosa, Penn

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    The quarterback of the football team and a starter on the baseball team during his time at Penn, Mark DeRosa was selected by the Braves in the seventh round of the 1996 MLB draft.  He made it to the big leagues two years later as a shortstop. 

    DeRosa was used as a utility player in Atlanta for the next seven years.  He played nearly every position that Bobby Cox assigned him to and was able to maintain a batting average in the upper .200s. 

    After leaving the Braves and signing with the Rangers in 2005, DeRosa had trouble finding a permanent home.  DeRosa is set to attend spring training with the Nationals this month, which will be the seventh team that he has played for in his career. 

    DeRosa may not have the greatest statistics ever, but he has been a reliable player throughout his entire tenure in the big leagues due to his extreme versatility. 

Jeremy Lin, Harvard

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    Say what you would like to say, but Jeremy Lin is determined to make sure that he is not just another flash in the pan.  Linsanity has taken over America and there is no stopping this star in the making. 

    He does not deserve to be mentioned in the same category as Derrick Rose, Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo yet, but Lin is certainly guiding the Knicks in the right direction. 

    New York was lost with superstars Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire in control.  Since Lin took over the team they have been one of the best in the NBA. 

    Lin has lost just one game in his streak of greatness and has been at his best in victories over the last two NBA champions, the Lakers and the Mavericks.  Now that the Knicks are back in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference, it will be great to see what Lin can do this season.