Every time New England Patriots defensive back Logan Ryan accomplished another football goal, former Voorhees (N.J.) Eastern head coach Dan Spittal watched with pride.
From Ryan's verbal commitment to Rutgers to an All-American 2012 to the NFL Draft, Spittal saw a positive role model for South Jersey. On Super Bowl Sunday, Ryan represents one of five Rutgers products on the rosters.
“I'm going to guess there's going to be some talking going on between [Mohamed] Sanu and him,” said Spittal, who now works for the Rutgers recruiting office. “… We've got a matchup here between the Rutgers secondary and Sanu. It's going to be very interesting and it's a great spotlight for, not only New Jersey and Rutgers, but what you can do if you really want to try to succeed. … Those are the kind of kids you can build a program around.”
Ryan declared early for the NFL draft in a press conference with his father, Lester, and his defensive coordinator Robb Smith. He earned a third-round spot with New England and, at the age of 25, already has his first Super Bowl ring and his first child.
“I'm obviously very proud of all the Rutgers guys, but in particularly Logan coming from Eastern High School,” Spittal said.
Coaching mentors like Spittal, Schiano and Smith helped Ryan develop into an NFL player, but it started at the family level.
“Logan's dad actually works down in Camden County in the prosecutor's office,” Spittal said. “He teaches hand-to-hand combat to the policemen. He comes from a very good family. My description is always the family builds the foundation. When you come to high school, it's my responsibility to build the first floor. He comes to college, they build the second floor. That's how it's done.”
The best recruiting years for Rutgers football include a strong South Jersey presence. Spittal, Ash and the rest of the staff worked for a stronger foothold in 2017 and 2018 like the one Schiano established after years of neglect.
“They (Rutgers) treated us as out-of-state,” Spittal said. “Once [Schiano] came in and solidified it, he got Ryan D'Imperio from Washington Township. He was probably the first South Jersey guy Greg picked up. In 2008, he got Logan Ryan and started rolling into South Jersey getting guys to commit. He had it pretty-well locked up, I would say, by the time he left for Tampa Bay. There was a slight stumble here for the last four years, but coach Ash has come in here and kind of patched up the castle a little bit. I think we've done that. Now let's get some players and compete in the Big Ten East.”