Returning Home for Brackett Aiding Rutgers

NEW YORK -- Former Rutgers star Gary Brackett, now with the Indianapolis Colts, made it en vogue to work out at the Hale Center even after he made it to the NFL. The middle linebacker has served as an inspiration for many of the Scarlet Knights who followed his path from Rutgers to the NFL, and they talked about what seeing Brackett work out meant to them.

NEW YORK – Even after his Rutgers career ended, Gary Brackett continued working out at the Hale Center for a simple, prudent reason.

It was free.

With eight NFL seasons, a Super Bowl title and a few nice contracts on his resume, the Indianapolis Colts middle linebacker certainly can afford to work out somewhere else.

Yet, he remains a regular at the Hale Center, working out with a number of other former Scarlet Knights now playing in the NFL.

"I know it's important for guys to understand how I got to the league," Brackett said. "I spoke to several walk-ons (recently), asking me advice on what they should do, how should they practice, and just share the information, (then) step into the linebackers' room with those guys.

"I think it would have been awesome, in my shoes, if I saw an NFL player when I was back at Rutgers."

When former Rutgers star Brian Leonard hosted his charity bowling event earlier this month for the Embrace Kids Foundation, which benefits children with cancer and blood disorders, a few dozen former players showed up.

Many of them are now playing in the NFL, and continue to train at Rutgers in the offseason. And the consensus among them was Brackett, a former walk-on, was an inspiration for coming back to campus to work out and help bridge the gap between being a college and professional player.

"When he used to come back, I'd look back at him and watch what he did in the weight room," Leonard said. "Now, I'm one of those guys that the athletes at Rutgers right now look up to. It's a good feeling when you go in there and have a good workout because you know guys are watching."

Devin McCourty, who made the pro bowl as a rookie cornerback with the New England Patriots, elected to do his offseason training at Rutgers as well.

After watching former Rutgers players return to campus in the offseason, McCourty said he understood the value, which is why he continues to do it.

"When I'm in the locker room, I'm talking to (the current players)," McCourty said. "A lot of guys I got to play a year with, or maybe two, they came back and they could tell me how the NFL was, and different things to learn and try to get better as a player."

Brackett chose to return to Rutgers not only to share his stories, offer advice and answer questions for the current players, but also because of the workout he was experiencing under strength and conditioning coach Jay Butler.

"Coach Butler took me from a 240 pound pudge to a 228 pound NFL linebacker," Brackett said. "He was definitely big in my development as an NFL player, so I want to go back there and get that college workout.

"I think it's an awesome responsibility just to show your face around. It's a phenomenal weight room. They really did a great job making it a world-class workout facility. It's just good to have the NFL guys come back and show them what they did to get there."

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