Forever A Scarlet Knight

During his rather upbeat press conference last night, Rutgers football head coach Greg Schiano's voice trembled for a brief moment: Jamaal Westerman's collegiate career has unexpectedly ended.

Schiano announced that Westerman, the fifth-year senior, had undergone surgery on Friday to repair a torn biceps. Originally suffered against Pittsburgh, doctors allowed Westerman, the Brampton, Ontario native, to continue to play because the injury could not worsen, Schiano said.

"We have some bad news," Schiano said. "Jamaal Westerman's career at Rutgers is over. He tore his biceps since Pittsburgh. It's an incredible act of courage. We certainly checked with the doctors and they said he could hurt it no worse up the Louisville game. And that was totally his decision. He said he wanted to do it. He had surgery right after the game."

Despite the setback, Schiano said he expects the veteran defensive end to help prepare for the bowl season.

"[Westerman's] going to help us get ready for this bowl game and he's going to help us coach that defensive line," Schiano said. "He's a very experienced guy, almost as old as I am."

The ample supply on D-Line at the start of the season has diminished. In addition to Westerman, the injured Gary Watts and suspended Justin Francis will not compete in the Papajohns.com Bowl on Dec. 29.

Schiano left open the possibility of shifting defensive tackle Alex Silvestro to end.

"I don't know yet," Schiano said. "We have to work through the depth… Eric LeGrand is there and Jon Freeney and George Johnson. We have some flexibility. We'll move some guys around and see what the best mix is. Alex could always move back out."

Schiano praised Westerman's uncanny sense of perseverance and dedication to the Scarlet Knights' program.

"He's a passionate guy about this team and this family," Schiano said. "There are always risks involved in every decision you make. He's a sign of the unselfish attitude that we have."

Also situated on the defensive side, safety Courtney Greene admired Westerman's courage.

"Nobody knew about the injury to tell you the truth," Greene said. "Coach told us in the locker room. That's a compliment to this program. It shows that a guy has been for six years. He's excited to be here. He fights. Unfortunately he can't play in his last game."

Kevin Malast, a senior linebacker, echoed similar feelings.

"The thing is even I had no idea," Malast said. [Westerman] didn't want to talk about it, make it a distraction. That just goes to show what kind of person he is, what kind of team player he is. He taped it up and just played."

"[Westerman] gutted it out basically for us because he wanted to play no matter the circumstance," said wide receiver Tiquan Underwood. "I really respect him for that."

Following the 63-14 win over Louisville, the mood in the locker room turned uncharacteristically sour…until Westerman revived everyone's disposition with his typical sense of humor.

"Coach gave Jamaal the game ball," Greene said. "It was a little bit of downtime. And then Jamaal started laughing again. He's an upbeat guy and he started doing our chant. It was a fun experience for him to go out on the note that we went out on.

"He's our old man here, our grandpa, so to send him out on that note is a great job, and hopefully we'll send him out with another win on the 29th."


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