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Monday, October 27, 2014

Rutgers' Chris Laviano the latest in Long Island quarterbacks with Ralph Friedgen

(AP photo)
By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

Rutgers' quarterback-in-training hopes to be the third Long Island protege of Ralph Friedgen to one day play in the NFL.

His first real chance to bulk his body of work could come as soon as Saturday.

Chris Laviano grew up in the town of Glen Head on Long Island, home to future pros Boomer Esiason and Bob Avellini

Esiason was groomed under Ralph Friedgen, now Laviano's offensive coordinator, at Maryland in the mid-1980s. Avellini, who played in high school with Laviano's dad, arrived in College Park a decade earlier, when Friedgen was a graduate assistant.

"I think it's just a cool little fact," Laviano said last week. "It's cool to know they're from the same (place). Flood was from the same league I was from. It's cool just to work hard for that kind of reputation."

Esiason, of course, ended up with a 14-year NFL career with four Pro Bowl selections, while Avellini capped a nine-year stint in the league in 1984.

With starter Gary Nova's status up in the air after a right knee injury Saturday, Laviano's on-field education could begin sooner than most expected. He has had less than a full calendar year of real teaching after spending his redshirt season replicating other teams.

"He's pretty much my first offensive coordinator," Laviano said of Friedgen, who grew up about a half hour away in Harrison, N.Y. "I was on scout team, so I didn't really get coached last year. It's going great. I'm learning from Gary, so I'm trying to absorb as much as I can so that I learn fast, so that if I do have to go in the game that I'm ready."

In a half of relief work in Saturday's loss at No. 16 Nebraska, Laviano finished 4-for-9 for 47 yards and added 54 yards on five rushes. He said his confidence has improved with a larger workload.

"I think it was a great opportunity for him to go out there and perform in a setting he has not had the opportunity to be in very much," Flood said of Laviano. "Do you have more confidence in him today than before you got a chance to see that? I think that's fair."

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