Just about wherever Devin McCourty went last year, David Rowe made sure to follow.
Rowe wanted to soak up all the knowledge he could from Rutgers' star cornerback and future first-round NFL draft pick.
"He taught me all the little things," Rowe said. "Not big things like scheme, but just how to win those one-on-one battles and how receivers want to leverage you. It was all about the mentality of football."
Rowe also was McCourty's roommate the night before games and would lean on the veteran to help calm his nerves, especially before Rowe made his first career start against Florida International.
"He said all the right things to calm me down," Rowe said. "He'd say, 'Just go out there and have fun. Love what you're doing.'"
Flash forward to this season, and now it is Rowe who's the experienced Scarlet Knights cornerback. He's the one ready to give advice to younger players -- and Rutgers hopes, to play as well as McCourty did.
The junior recently was named as the team's best draft-eligible pro prospect by Mel Kiper. At 6-foot and 196 pounds, he's got excellent size for a corner and showed good coverage skills last season after moving into that starting role early. He had been a nickelback before that.
"That was a big step for me going, from nickel to outside, basically on an island," he said. "Each game throughout the year, I got better and more comfortable."
Rowe said he felt like he belonged when he grabbed his first career interception against Texas Southern and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown. He also had a pick against UConn.
The Rutgers secondary is young but talented, with redshirt freshman Logan Ryan battling Brandon Bing for the starting job at the other corner spot. Promising youngsters such as Darrell Givens, Brandon Jones and Lorenzo Waters make sure the defensive backfield is in good hands for the future.
"I think the secondary can expect a lot of big things this year," Rowe said. "We know the defense and what the offense wants to do to us. I think we can play with a lot of teams in the country."
And if any of the younger players need advice or a word of reassurance, Rowe is happy to pay back the favor.