Not too long ago, it seemed Bill Belichick was locked in on University of Florida players given his association with former Gators coach Urban Meyer. But now, the fascination is clearly with Rutgers, and players from former Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano’s program.

Belichick plucked three Rutgers players out of his seven draft picks. Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon and Steve Beauharnais join in-house alums Devin McCourty and Justin Francis in the Patriots locker room. They also join Belichick’s son Steve, a former long snapper for Schiano who is now a Pats coaching assistant.

All five former Scarlet Knights are defensive players, with new additions Ryan a cornerback, Harmon a safety and Beauharnais a linebacker.

Statistically, Rutgers (9-4, 5-2 Big East) was pretty good defensively in 2012, allowing just 184 points in 13 games. The Scarlet Knights led the Big East in interceptions with 18 and was third in sacks, but there were also games where they allowed talented quarterbacks like Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib, who was drafted by the New York Giants, to throw for 356 yards.

Asked Saturday night what the common thread was beyond Schiano, who is in his second year as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Belichick at first said it was “coincidental.” Belichick then elaborated a bit further.