What's a Rutgers?
While many have tried to explain the state university of New Jersey before and after Tennessee posed the question 34 years ago, good luck finding a more perfect answer than the one that came Tuesday night from Julian Pinnix-Odrick.
Pinnix-Odrick, a kid from Montclair (N.J.) High in his final days as a Rutgers student, spoke in front of 500 classmates, coaches and donors with a perfect summary of what it means to be Rutgers. One of two senior speakers at the R Awards, the verbose Pinnix-Odrick's departing words will stand for a long time.
“This is who we are. We are not Indiana or Ohio or Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or Minnesota. This is Jersey baby. We aren't defined by fancy campuses and elaborate things or an extraordinary history of sports. We're defined by doubt, by grinders, by underdogs, by a lot of kids that other people didn't want, by people who've got a chip on their shoulder. We have long, cold winters and scorching hot summers. We are working out in the RAC hallway, lifting underneath the stadium, training in the College Ave Gym, succeeding beyond our means and doing it with an ill grill on our face. Rutgers is not here for the glory. We're here for the respect. We are not Cinderella. We never had a glass slipper or a fairy-god mother and guess what? We never needed one. We weren't invited to the dance and still, we showed up, kicked the door in and turned the party up. We are the Grease Trucks and everything that makes us not everyone else. We are who we are.”
From turmoil to coaching change to bowl rings to a 2-10 senior season, Pinnix-Odrick went through the gauntlet and came out clean on the other side. Pinnix-Odrick captained the Rutgers defense in his fifth season and final year as a football player.
The R Awards allowed Pinnix-Odrick to give thanks and say goodbye. It may have been the biggest hit of his career.
“I was extremely nervous, especially following a speech like Sarah Regn's,” Pinnix-Odrick told Scarlet Report. “She's a really beautify person. I know her. It was pretty cool to finally express the thoughts I've been thinking toward the student body and the coaches. We don't normally get to speak to each other that much. It's special.”
A marketing internship with Dun & Bradstreet is next for Pinnix-Odrick, who chose to enter the workforce instead of pursue a career in professional football.
“I'm hopping on for a few projects, and I really appreciate that opportunity,” Pinnix-Odrick said. “I've met so many people and I'm still meeting as many people as I can to figure out what path I'm going to take. I'm open to everything.”
While Pinnix-Odrick's career is over, his passion lives on through friendships built at Rutgers. Pinnix-Odrick spent his Monday helping friend and fellow captain Derrick Nelson prepare for a tryout with the Baltimore Ravens.
Pinnix-Odrick learned it at Rutgers.
“I'm more excited for those guys than I could ever be for myself in that situation,” he said. “I'm in disbelief. I've lived with Derrick for so long and now he's doing his thing. Anything he wants me to do, I said I'm there for all of those guys. I took some snaps (for Nelson). I love them to death, and that's the truth. I will always have their backs.”