A "dream come true" for Tolentino

It was a "dream come true" for David Tolentino. The 6-foot-2, 275-pound lineman committed to Navy three weeks ago but did not announce publicly until after his school, St. Peter's Prep of Jersey City, N.J., won the Non-Public Group IV state championship on Friday, December 5th at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.

"This spring Mike Judge came to my high school and offered me on that day," Tolentino told GoMids.com. "I remember he didn't shy away from letting me know about the service part of the academy. He told me I was a good player who played with a lot of passion and enthusiasm and that he thought I'd be a great fit at Navy. He said I was the kind of hard-worker they were looking for both on the field and in the classroom.

"I was interested immediately. Right after he left, I talked it over with my head coach and he agreed that I had a lot in common with the Naval Academy as far as being a loyal, high-charterer guy and said I should definitely keep them in mind. He told me that Coach Judge let him know when he was there that I was number one of their board for interior linemen of defensive and also number one on their board for offensive guard.

"In August I took an unofficial visit to Annapolis and thought that campus was absolutely beautiful. I fell in love with the place. It's right on there on bay. Then I remember going to watch their first practice and seeing how they were all giving 100-percent effort even though they weren't even in full gear and started to think this was the place for me. I got a real feel for the brotherhood for the first time.

"When I went back to Maryland for to the Navy-Notre Dame game, I began seriously thinking about committing. It was on that trip that Navy really stood out to me for the other schools I was considering. Throughout the recruiting process, I wanted to find a school that reminded me of my high school. St. Peter's Prep means a lot to me and I wanted to be at a place where I felt the same kind of connection. When I saw how hard Navy played Notre Dame, giving 110-percent on every single play until the final whistle, I honestly thought they were going to pull it off the win. They came so close. At St. Peter's we talk about how the team is more that just yourself. I saw the Navy guys playing together as one, not shying away from the competition and I knew I wanted to be a part of that next year."

St. Peter's, ranked number one in the state going into the playoffs, was in the middle of their run to the state finals when Tolentino made his verbal commitment to Mike Judge. He decided not to make any public announcements right away in fear of taking away from the team's focus.

"I just didn't want (my commitment) to be any type of a distraction for our team," Tolentino said. "I told Coach Judge that I would be signing with the U.S. Naval Academy in February, but to please not to say anything until we were out of the playoffs. My head coach said he would keep it hushed as well. Now that the recruiting process is over, I can honestly say it feels like a dream come true. It hasn't been an easy road. I have to thank my family, my friends, my coaches, my teachers, and my teammates for helping to make this possible.

"When I first started talking to Coach Judge about serving I was skeptical. I didn't know about spending five years of my life after college in the service. The more I thought about it, the more I thought about what a great opportunity it is. I've been serving my community the past four years while I've been in high school. In Jesuit school, we talk a lot about striving to serve others. After the Naval Academy, I'll be serving my country and protecting other people. I don't mind doing that at all.

"With football, I'm a very defensive-minded guy but if they can find a spot for me on the field sooner rather than later, I'm open to playing offense. They said it all depends on how I develop in the next year.

"I'm so excited after watching last night's game. I came home from work and watched a recording of the (Army-Navy) game. It was a nail-biter with all kinds of momentum shifts. I've kept track of the team all season and love how they refuse to just quit and curl up into a little ball in the face of adversity. Having done that all year helped them respond the way they did yesterday when they got down early. It was a great win for Navy."

Tolentino, a three-year starter at St. Peter's, was recently named Defensive Player of the Year in Hudson County. He had 70-plus tackles, six sacks, a fumble recovery, and a forced fumble in his senior year. He selected Navy over offers from Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. After graduation from St. Peter's Prep, he'll start out at NAPS.

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