A two-star defensive tackle prospect, Noonan built himself into a multi-year starter, team captain and one of seven (Noonan, Kenny Britt, Tim Brown, Matt Hardison, George Johnson, Jack Corcoran and Ryan D'Imperio) recruits from his class to earn an NFL paycheck.
Noonan started a preseason game for the Philadelphia Eagles before hanging up his cleats and getting into coaching.
"I'm really grateful for everything I have," said Noonan, who is five days away from his first game as a Rutgers coach. "Every day I wake up and just feel great about the opportunities. It was awesome playing for the hometown team for that short stint."
Noonan was not sure of his future after leaving the NFL. Looking for a career in investment banking, Noonan took an internship and coached at a local high school on the side.
"I wasn't exactly sure when I was done, but I started helping out at a high school and really fell in love with it," Noonan said. "I get to help gets grow up and I really love that aspect of it."
Noonan turned his high school gig into a full-time assistant coaching job at Thiel College in Western Pennsylvania.
Thiel defensive coordinator John Harakal coached Noonan at Rutgers and hired him as a defensive line coach for the Division III program.
"I got so much experience out there," Noonan said. "I coached the same defense that we're running here. It was the same defense that I played in at Rutgers. It was really what I needed for my career. At the small schools, you do everything. I was the d-line coach. I was the recruiting coordinator. I helped with strength and condition. I learned a lot."
Rutgers coach Kyle Flood brought Noonan back Piscataway in the offseason as a graduate assistant.
The opportunity to coach defensive linemen at his alma mater was an easy decision for Noonan.
"For me, it's such a great feeling to come back," Noonan said. "It's home. It's my family. When I put the "R" back on, it really was like part of a family picture.
"Coach Flood is incredibly efficient. Everything we do is so efficient. From a program standpoint, we're not wasting any time. You want to work hard for him. He's a guy that works hard and really understands it. He's a great figure for our guys. He knows what this program was built on because he helped build it. He's a great example for everybody else when you look at what he did."
Noonan started alongside LeGrand before the injury and took on a lot of responsibility as a senior captain after LeGrand got hurt.
"I don't know what I'll feel," Noonan said. "I remember that day like it was yesterday in MetLife Stadium. Having to go back out and play, it was the weirdest feeling. I was empty. That was my brother. He still is. It's great for him and it's going to mean a lot to me to stand on the field as a coach and clap for him."