New England Patriots Devin McCourty uses adversity to grow

Being a member of the New England Patriots—a first-round 2010 draft pick, no less—may well be the realization of a lifelong dream for Devin McCourty, but being part of a team is nothing new for the young New York native. The cornerback was born to one: the lifelong team comprising himself and his twin brother Jason, who plays the same position for the Tennessee Titans.

And it was that sense of being half of a whole that made what happened his freshman year in college so difficult. After a stellar career playing opposite each other at St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, New Jersey, the two went off to Rutgers University together, but while his brother started playing right away, Devin was red-shirted, meaning he practiced with the team but with the expectation that he wouldn’t see any game time until sophomore year. “The coaches at Rutgers felt that I needed to develop more,” he said.

“I think it would have been easier to take if I didn’t have a twin brother. For our whole life, everyone saw us as the same, and then we got to college and faced someone who was saying, ‘He [Jason] can play, but you’re not ready yet.’ It was the first time that we were treated differently. Everyone had always seen us as the same and this was our realization that in the real world, we were different.”

Seeing the team leave campus for weekend games was particularly difficult for Devin that year.  You go to college to play football, so then when you can’t play, you start to feel aimless.”

Devin refused to let that sense of aimlessness get the best of him.  Instead, he worked harder than ever to ensure that he would have a spot on the football team his sophomore year. “The whole freshman year experience made me realize what it would take to really get to where I wanted to be. So I worked out and lifted weights and did everything I could do, because I said to myself, ‘There is no way that I’m not going to play next year.’ I had played football since my freshman year in high school; this was the first time I’d been in a situation in sports where it felt like, maybe I’m not that good. It really takes your confidence away at first. But I chose a path to just work and keep believing in myself.”

That attitude paid off not only when he started playing regularly for Rutgers his sophomore year but on into his present-day life as a pro, Devin believes.

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