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CHICAGO, IL–In recent years, Rutgers football has made a habit of sending players to the National Football League (NFL), and 2016 has been no exception.
Over the weekend of April 28-30, four former Scarlet Knights joined NFL teams as the league observed its annual draft of college athletes.
The highlight of the weekend came when wide receiver Leonte Carroo, an Edison native who became Rutgers’ all-time leader in receiving touchdowns, was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the third round of the draft.
The Dolphins were seemingly so enamored with Carroo that they traded a 2016 sixth-round pick and 2017 third and fourth-round picks to the Minnesota Vikings to draft him.
Carroo enjoyed a prolific football career on the banks. After playing out his freshman year on special teams, he burst onto the scene as a sophomore in 2013, catching 28 passes for 478 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns.
Following the departure of top receiver Brandon Coleman after that season, Carroo flourished even more as a junior in 2014, recording 55 receptions for 1,086 yards and ten touchdowns, all team-highs. He was named First Team All-Big Ten after the season.
2015 was a rocky season for Carroo as he missed two games serving a suspension and two while dealing with an ankle injury. He also played through the injury in a number of games, and did not always appear to be at full health.
Still, Carroo remained Rutgers’ top receiver, catching 39 passes for 809 yards and ten more touchdowns in just eight games. He earned Third Team All-Big Ten honors in the process.
Carroo is the first Rutgers wide receiver to be drafted since the Bengals took Mohamed Sanu in Round 3 of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Rutgers has now had players drafted in four of the last five drafts, and 14 draft picks total since 2010.
Carroo may have been the only Scarlet Knight drafted over the weekend, but he was far from the only former Rutgers star to turn pro, as a number of players joined teams as undrafted free agents.
Linebacker Steve Longa, who opted to forego his final season of eligibility to turn pro, agreed to a contract with the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday evening.
Longa was a three-year starter on the banks, notching over 100 tackles each season. His 342 total tackles ranks him eighth on the Scarlet Knights’ all-time list.
Fellow linebacker Quentin Gause signed a free agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Gause was the Scarlet Knights’ starter at strongside linebacker for the past two seasons. He enjoyed his finest season as a redshirt senior in 2015, totaling a career-high 96 tackles, including 12 for a loss.
In addition to his performance on the field, Gause has always been commended for his role as a leader in the locker room. He received the 2014 Rutgers Leadership Award, and was the recipient of the 2015 “R” Man Courage Award. Gause was also named a team captain for the 2015 season.
Longtime Rutgers left tackle Keith Lumpkin also signed his first pro contract over the weekend, joining the Buffalo Bills.
The 6-8, 325-pound giant started each of the last 38 games at left tackle for the Scarlet Knights, and was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten after last season.
While he did not agree to a contract with an NFL team, former Rutgers running back Paul James is getting a shot in the NFL, as he will attend rookie minicamp with the Cleveland Browns. James will get a chance to show his worth in front of the Browns’ coaches as he looks for a contract offer.
Fellow former Scarlet Knights running back Savon Huggins also earned a rookie minicamp invite, as he will work out with the Green Bay Packers.
Huggins, a former five-star recruit, transferred from Rutgers to Northern Iowa after the 2014 season. However, he resurfaced on the banks when he took part in Rutgers’ Pro Day in March. There, he impressed scouts enough to earn an invite from Green Bay.
Joining Huggins at Packers’ rookie minicamp will be former Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova.
Nova, who finished his Rutgers career at the end of the 2014 season, was also in attendance for Rutgers’ Pro Day as he attempts to give a career in the NFL another shot.
Nova joined the New York Giants for rookie minicamp last year, but was not signed to a contract.