It happened nearly 20 years ago, but the memory of it can still get the blood boiling for now retired New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty.
McCourty and his twin brother Jason McCourty were high schoolers in New Jersey in 2004 and were in the middle of their college recruitment at that time. They had drawn some interest, and then former Boston College coach Tom O’Brien came to the McCourty household on a recruiting visit. But O’Brien was only there to see Jason McCourty.
That left Devin McCourty seething as he recounted the details Tuesday during his retirement ceremony at the Patriots Hall of Fame. The snub by O’Brien and BC gave McCourty plenty of motivation and helped propel an illustrious 13-year NFL career in New England — not far from BC’s campus — that also came with three Super Bowl titles.
“I remembered vividly when my brother got offered from Boston College and they came and Tom O’Brien came to our house. And we had a small house, we lived in a trailer home and the walls were thin,” McCourty told reporters, per MassLive’s Mark Daniels. “I remember sitting in my room and him in the living room with my mom and Jay. And they’re talking about how life would be at BC. I remember just being in my room steaming hot. Like this dude has the audacity to come to my house and not even let me sit in this meeting?
“That fueled me. Jay knows — I still get energized and have a little animosity toward BC. Even though I’ve been here 13 years, so there’s some love now.”
Not all recruiting visits were like that for the twin brothers, though. It was much different when then-Rutgers coach Greg Schiano visited the family as relayed by Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who was on hand for the festivities.
Belichick told a story of how Devin and Jason McCourty’s mother, Phyllis, made it known to Schiano that the twins were a package deal.
“She said to coach Schiano, ‘So, coach, you’re recruiting both boys, right? Right? Because BC only recruited Jason. They didn’t recruit Devin and I didn’t like that. So, you’re recruiting both of them, right?'” Belichick said. “Schiano is like, yeah (shaking his head). So, that’s how they both ended up at Rutgers.”
Devin McCourty went on to be a first-round selection by the Patriots in 2010 and became a staple in New England’s defense for more than a decade.
But he found a way throughout his career to keep the edge he received from BC not wanting to recruit him.
“I always thought me and Jay were the same. That was one of the first times someone told us that we were different,” McCourty said. “And then told me that I wasn’t good enough or as good as him. For my whole career, I never felt like a first rounder. I never felt like a top guy and I always carried that mentality. I look up now and don’t really understand how I got to this day.”