A Familiar Face At Practice

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Former Rutgers defensive lineman Jamaal Westerman attended the Scarlet Knights' practice Wednesday, and at the conclusion of it was asked by coach Greg Schiano to say a couple of words. Then, Westerman spoke to the media and talked about the advice he gave to the Scarlet Knights, the new look of Rutgers Stadium and a few other things.

Jamaal Westerman's commitment to team could never be questioned.

Given the choice to undergo surgery to repair a torn biceps muscle to be ready for the NFL combine or continue playing for a Rutgers team that began the 2008 season 1-5, he opted to play and risk an NFL career.

On Wednesday, the New York Jets linebacker was welcomed to Rutgers practice by coach Greg Schiano, who asked Westerman to speak to the Scarlet Knights for a few minutes.

Westerman's message was simple.

"(He told them) just enjoy the time they have right now, enjoy being around each other, being around the guys," Westerman said. "Most of these guys live together, they go to class together, they eat together, they go out together. They can be special this year. Just go out there and play hard and really enjoy it."

It wasn't the first time Westerman returned to his alma mater. He was a frequent visitor to Rutgers in 2009.

"Last year I got to come to a lot of games," he said. "I didn't get a chance to watch (this year's) first game because we had a preseason game that night. I'll try to catch it on the internet. But every game I get a chance to watch, I'll watch. Every game I can come to, I try to come. There's just something special here, and what they've done around here from when I came to now.

"And it's always good to see a college football game played."

A by-product of the metamorphosis the Rutgers football program experienced while Westerman was there is seen in the south end zone, where the stadium was closed to add a 10,000-seat student section.

"It's nice, man," Westerman said. "I know it was loud when we played Louisville that one year, so it must get real loud. It's nice. Just seeing the program continue to progress, continue to move up, continue to get better, that's the biggest thing.

"You don't want to stay the same. You want to get better so you can compete with different teams when it comes to facilities and things like that, so I think they're doing a great job around here."

Westerman's speech to most of the Scarlet Knights came across as new, but one knows all about the type of inspirational words Westerman can deliver. His younger brother, Jawan, is a walk-on defensive back.

"His eyes were on me so I think he was paying attention," Jammal Westerman said. "He probably heard it from me before."

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