Rutgers got exciting news over the weekend when it announced Jack Del Rio was coming. Unfortunately for some fans, it turns out the Del Rio who is headed to Piscataway is a player, not a coach.
The Del Rio who first comes to mind, of course, is ex-NFL coach and USC and NFL star Jack Del Rio, who has been sitting on the sidelines since being fired on New Year’s Eve of 2017. He was in the first year of a four-year contract when he was fired, so he’s still being paid by the Raiders for 2019 and 2020, barring unknown conditions in his contract which would also be quite rare in the industry.
All of that made the news that Jack Del Rio was headed to Rutgers a bit surprising, until one looked a bit closer at the headline. Yes, it’s true that there will be a Jack Del Rio on campus at Rutgers for the 2020 season. But this del Rio will wear a helmet and play linebacker, not a headset to call plays.
The Jack Del Rio who will be a Scarlet Knight is a Class of 2020 linebacker from Clearwater (Fla.) Central Catholic School. He’s a three-star prospect, per 247Sports’ Composite Rankings, and also had scholarship offers from Bowling Green and Colorado State when he committed. There is no publicly known family relation between the two Jack Del Rio’s.
While the full identity of the Del Rio who committed to Rutgers might send a twinge of regret down the spine of devoted Knights fans, they should give their future linebacker a full chance. He’s well worth it.
As documented in this terrific feature from the Tampa Bay Times, Del Rio plays down one digit after he had his ring finger amputated to stop a very rare form of bone cancer. He also refused to miss a game after the death of his father, so he suited up and played in his honor just one day after his Dad passed away.
“It just made me go harder for him,” Del Rio told the Times.. “No doubt it was tough, but the way he raised me helped me endure and come out stronger than I was before.”
You can’t teach that kind of toughness, and it’s precisely the kind of player that the other Jack Del Rio would appreciate. That should make Rutgers fans happy after all.