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Vince Wilfork, Devin McCourty pay their respects to Greg Schiano

08.23.12 at 1:11 pm ET
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The joint practices between the Patriots and Buccaneers are giving some Patriots a chance to catch up with Greg Schiano. Schiano, a former head coach at Rutgers and assistant at the University of Miami who became head coach in Tampa Bay this past offseason, has connections to New England cornerback Devin McCourty, as well as defensive lineman Vince Wilfork.

‘€œI wasn’€™t a guy that had any other offers; I only had Rutgers,’€ said McCourty, who played for Schiano at Rutgers from 2006 through 2009. ‘€œEven with that being said, he was always trying to change the program around with the right things and was all about winning and being competitive.

‘€œI think myself and a lot of other guys that play in the NFL now that went to college around that time, really believed in him [and] in his belief in turning that program around. I think it was great for us to be there and be a part of something new that changed the culture of a whole football program.’€

Prior to becoming the head coach at Rutgers, Schiano helped recruit Wilfork to Miami.

‘€œVery, very intense,’€ Wilfork said of Schiano, who was with the Hurricanes as their defensive coordinator in 1999 and 2000. ‘€œHe loves doing what he’€™s doing and that’€™s coaching football. It wasn’€™t a surprise to see him at this level someday — it was just a matter of time.  He went to Rutgers and had a very successful reign up there and turned that program around and got guys to buy into his program because he’€™s all about winning and I’€™ve seen it first hand.

‘€œHaving some guys from Rutgers on our team, Devin [McCourty] and Justin [Francis] and guys like that, they say the same thing. He’€™s a great, great guy. He’€™s a hell of a coach and I think he’€™s going to be around for a while.’€

Schiano told us back in February that McCourty will bounce back after an occasionally rough 2011 season, and this week, McCourty returned the compliment, saying Schiano will ‘€œdo well’€ as a coach in the NFL.

‘€œI remember all the times when we were in college, he used to tell us, ‘€˜A lot of things we’€™re doing here will prepare you to play at the next level.’€™ He [ran] things like an NFL team,’€ said McCourty, who was a first-round pick of the Patriots in 2010. ‘€œWhen I got to the NFL I was like, ‘€˜You know, he was right.’€™ We did a lot of things similarly, so I think he’€™ll transition pretty well. He was a coach in Chicago before and he spent a lot of time in college getting the different aspects and just going through it, helping kids grow into grown men. But as far as coaching football, I think he’€™ll do a great job.’€

Read More: Devin McCourty, Greg Schiano, Vince Wilfork,
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