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Preps

Bucs' Schiano no stranger to Tampa prep coaches

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 12:37 PM
TAMPA -

Who is Greg Schiano, you say?

Talk to just about any high school football coach in the Tampa Bay area and you'll probably discover a long-term relationship. Schiano, the new Buccaneers coach, built those ties during 11 seasons at Rutgers.

"I think it's great for the NFL to go outside the norm and get someone like this," Armwood High coach Sean Callahan said. "Trust me, Greg Schiano is very well-known in Florida — period.

"He's the kind of guy who can go into a locker room and establish structure. He will have a solid plan. That's something that pro players can respect. I know him, so there's some bias, but I think he can make a difference."

Last season, Rutgers featured two Hillsborough County players — sophomore running back Jeremy Deering (Leto) and sophomore linebacker Fred Overstreet (Jefferson). Six years ago, Rutgers had 31 Florida players on its roster.

Schiano established what he called the "State of Rutgers" — a recruiting territory that included New Jersey, New York City, eastern Pennsylvania, southern Connecticut, South Florida and the Tampa Bay area.

Rutgers put up promotional billboards in Miami and Tampa. "Happy holidays from Rutgers football!" they blared in December, almost suggesting the Scarlet Knights were the home team.

"He was great at stuff like that, just getting Rutgers' name out there," Hillsborough High coach Earl Garcia said. "This is really intriguing to me. Maybe the casual Bucs fan doesn't know him so well, but he is well-known and well-respected in the coaching community. He's not a stranger to this area.

"This could be like when Tony (Dungy) was here. It will be good defense, good running game, fundamental football, no tricks. That's the identity of his teams."

Schiano stuck to that identity, even in the woeful beginnings of his era at Rutgers, when the Scarlet Knights dropped 17 consecutive games in the Big East Conference.

"From what I know about Greg through recruiting our guys, he's incredibly organized, he has a great vision for what he wants, and he finds the best way to achieve that vision," Plant High coach Robert Weiner said. "Philosophically speaking, whether it's college or pros, those are traits that will serve him well.

"There are plenty of coaches in the college ranks who have visited (Rutgers) to see how this guy is doing it. He seems to have that perfect balance of really running a controlled and disciplined program while still being a coach that people can relate to. He put in a mode of operations that not only accounted for the 'hows' and the 'whats,' but the 'whys.' That kind of organization and structure will fit well in a pro job."

 


jjohnston@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7353

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