Ryan Hart, the most under-appreciated Rutgers QB of all-time, ended the Scarlet-Knights' 27-year postseason bowl drought.
With a few solid performances in 2012 sandwiched between a slow start and a dreadful finish, fans and alumni have every right to be wary about the type of season that junior quarterback Gary Nova may put forth in 2013. On the sidelines, however, is capable senior Chas Dodd—along with several underclassmen—just waiting for an opportunity to become the starting signal caller for the Scarlet Knights.
Historically, defense and a running attack have been the hallmarks of Scarlet Knights football, not a dazzling aerial attack. However, there have been several quarterbacks whose careers at Rutgers did forge memorable moments in the nearly-40-year history of RU D-I football:
1. Mike Teel - Teel owns most of the Scarlet Knights passing records, but it may well be due to the fact that he played the most games and was surrounded by superior talent. Teel benefited from sharing the field with future-NFL players like Kenny Britt, Tiquan Underwood, Ray Rice and Brian Leonard.
With 59 TD passes and a QB rating of 135.4 for his career, Teel also led the Scarlet Knights to their first-ever postseason victory in the 2006 Texas Bowl. The team MVP in 2008, Teel was also the quarterback for some of the biggest victories in RU history, including wins over No. 3 Louisville and No. 2 USF. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks.
2. Ryan Hart - Hart played in just 38 games (10 less than Teel) in his four years at Rutgers, amassed 8,482 yards passing and threw for 52 touchdowns. He finished with a QB rating of 124.5 and averaged 223.2 yards passing per game. Despite having a lower level of talent around him than Mike Teel (Hart played just one year with Underwood and Rice), he was the RU quarterback that ended the 27-year bowl drought, leading the Scarlet Knights to the 2005 Insight.com Bowl.
By the time he graduated, Hart owned almost every major RU passing record, and had many of them by the end of his junior year. The offensive MVP in 2003, Hart had a brief stint with the Albany Conquest of the Arena Football League, but is best remembered for his lawsuit against EA Sports, wherein he contended that the video game company used his likeness in its NCAA football game without his permission.
3. Mike McMahon - With 6,608 yards and 41 TDs, McMahon finished with a 109.7 QB rating in his 35 games for the Knights. In truth, McMahon suffered through the era of head coach Terry Shea, where the only receiver of note was tight end L.J. Smith (who enjoyed a seven year NFL career of his own). Selected in the fifth round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions, McMahon played five seasons in the NFL before moving onto the CFL and UFL.
4. Ray Lucas - Despite the fact that he went on to a six-year career in the NFL with the Jets and Dolphins, Lucas' biggest game may have been the 1994 victory over West Virginia. While at Rutgers, Lucas threw for nearly 5,900 yards and 43 touchdowns, with a passer rating of 120.2. Lucas now works as a television and radio analyst.
5. Ed McMichael - McMichael led the Scarlet Knights to a 9-3 record in 1978, which earned them a berth to their first-ever bowl game. The next season, he was the Rutgers QB for 1979's monumental victory over the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville. In 33 career games, McMichael posted a 130.6 passer rating, a 61.6 passing percentage, 20 touchdowns and 3,584 yards through the air. McMichael later went on to a brief professional career with the New Jersey Generals of the USFL.
6. Scott Erney - Erney was a prolific passer at RU, slinging 41 touchdowns and 7,188 yards through the air in just 39 contests. The signature game of the Scott Erney Scarlet Knights was the 1988 victory over Michigan State on the Spartans' home field. The team MVP in 1987, 1988, and 1989, Erney went on to a brief professional career with the Barcelona Dragons of the WLAF.
7. Eric Hochberg - Hochberg's greatest moment as a Rutgers quarterback came on November 10, 1984, when he led the Scarlet Knights to a 23-19 victory over West Virginia. In 42 games as Rutgers' quarterback, Hochberg had a rating of 105.7, with 3,825 yards passing and 18 touchdowns.
8. Tom Savage - It's difficult to assess what might have been with Tom Savage, but if his first season was any indication, it is likely that he may well have re-written the Rutgers record books by the time his career was done. After a stellar true freshman campaign (for which he won the offensive MVP in 2009), he was injured in his sophomore year.
A very public falling out with head coach Greg Schiano followed, and Savage transferred from the Scarlet Knights. He is now enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh for the 2013 season. For his career at Rutgers, Savage had 16 TDs and 2,732 yards passing in just 18 games with the Scarlet Knights.
9. Bryan Fortay - In his two years as Rutgers' starting quarterback, Fortay threw for 25 TDs and 2,374 yards in 20 games following his transfer from the University of Miami, FL. The highlight of his RU career was the 1992 Homecoming Game, where he led the Scarlet Knights to a come-from-behind victory over Virginia Tech. Fortay had a brief professional stint with the Frankfurt Galaxy of the WLAF.
10. Bert Kosup - The quarterback of the Scarlet Knights during their last undefeated season in 1976, Kosup was the first Rutgers QB of the Division-I era. Although he was only a 47.8 percent passer for his career, Kosup threw for 25 TDs in three years as the Scarlet Knights' starting signal caller and still ranks eighth in passing yards (3,613).
While current QBs Gary Nova and Chas Dodd may eventually find their way onto this list, neither seems poised to set school records any time soon. The 2013 recruiting class brings in freshman quarterback Chris Laviano, while 2014 will see QB prospect Tyler Wiegers join the Scarlet Knights. Whether Laviano or Wiegers will make their marks in the University's record book remains to be seen, especially given Rutgers' future competition in the Big Ten Conference.