Rutgers team, about 100 students rally for LeGrand
About 100 students and friends, and most of the Rutgers football
team attended a rally to support paralyzed Scarlet Knights
defensive tackle Eric LeGrand.
Coach Greg Schiano delivered an emotional, prayer-filled speech
during the 90-minute gathering at the College Avenue gymnasium on
the Rutgers campus.
Three players – defensive back Joe Lefeged, defensive tackle
Charlie Noonan and offensive tackle Devon Watkis – took turns
speaking about LeGrand and why they believe he will walk again.
LeGrand was paralyzed from the neck down making a tackle on a
kickoff return in a game against Army on Oct. 16 at the New
Meadowlands Stadium. He is being treated at the Hackensack
University Medical Center.
”It’s been a very tough time, but to the people sitting here
tonight, I don’t know a whole lot about medicine and some would say
I don’t know a whole lot about anything lately,” Schiano said.
”But you know that God answers our prayers and I believe the No. 1
thing we can do is encourage people to pray for Eric.
”He (LeGrand) knows what has to be done and his set of
challenges have changed,” Schiano said. ”But you know what? Eric
is a guy who never backs down from a challenge. He will walk again.
I believe that.”
LeGrand’s aunt and uncle told the rally that they believe their
nephew will persevere.
Ariel and Cheryl Curet also believe as Schiano that LeGrand will
”Believe” has become the motto for the Rutgers team since the
”Although Eric suffered a serious injury, his mind and his
spirit are intact,” Cheryl Curet said. ”He told a physical
therapist, ‘Don’t challenge me — you will lose.’ He’s stubborn,
he’s a fighter. We have no doubt he will come through this.”
The rally was the first public on-campus demonstration for
LeGrand, who played his high school at nearby Colonia High
”Eric is probably the strongest person on our football team
inside and out, and God would not put this in front of him if he
could not move through this,” said Lefeged, the team’s defensive
John Mauer, who organized the rally, served as keynote speaker.
He introduced a video on LeGrand, the same one currently playing on
Senior defensive end Alex Silvestro has said earlier after the
team finished practice that he had noticed support for LeGrand on
campus since the injury.
”I have been walking down College Ave. and I have seen a lot of
people with ’52’ shirts and seen people wearing wristbands,”
Silvestro said. ”That’s good encouragement. That’s good that
everyone is supporting him.”
LeGrand’s jersey number is 52.
Senior wide receiver and punt returner Mason Robinson was happy
the campus was meeting to support the 20-year-old LeGrand.
”I think this is a great thing for the school, for everyone to
come out,” he said. ”The football team is definitely feeling a
lot of pain from the Eric’s situation. We’re just trying to keep
growing stronger every day. A lot of people were close to Eric, his
personality, he had a lot of friends, and he has a lot of friends.
I think it is a good thing to have a big prayer session for
Robinson, who had ’52’ written on his cleats, attended a prayer
meeting on Wednesday night at a church in nearly Avenel, LeGrand’s
”It was great to be there, I wish it was under different
circumstances,” Robinson said. ”It was amazing how many people
There also has been support for LeGrand from the Army football
The Black Knights announced earlier this week they will have red
decals on their helmets with LeGrand’s number and a small ”R” for
Rutgers in tribute.
”That shows a lot of class from Army,” Silvestro said.
AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan contributed to this report.