Wilkins Commits to Rutgers

Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph Regional defensive tackle Kevin Wilkins made the call Tuesday, and Rutgers will be his college home. Wilkins verbally committed to the Scarlet Knights during an unofficial visit to campus and becomes the 26th member of the class of 2014.

Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph Regional defensive tackle Kevin Wilkins knew it was Rutgers the second he left his head coach's office with knowledge of an offer.

Wilkins had dreams of representing New Jersey at his in-state university. He made it a reality Tuesday when he formally committed to coach Kyle Flood during an unofficial visit to campus.

"We're starting to keep everyone home now," Wilkins said. "I think everyone is starting to buy in to people staying home and, I know this is a big thing, but trying to win a national championship for Jersey, for Rutgers. I've bought into it completely and so have guys like Jonathan Hilliman from St. Peter's Prep. New Jersey football is the best football."

Wilkins did not like seeing top players leave New Jersey, and said he gives players like Gary Nova, Darius Hamilton and Leonte Carroo credit for paving the way to Rutgers.

"We had some of our greatest athletes go to other schools in the past because they don't think we can win a national championship," Wilkins said. "If we stay home, this is what I'm telling everyone, we're going to get it done here. I'm going to spread that message."

Wilkins is off to a torrid start to his senior season at St. Joseph, but played his first two college years on a Don Bosco program that now has many faces at Rutgers.

Former Don Bosco offensive coordinator Anthony Campanile coaches tight ends at Rutgers, and a slew of players now suit up for Rutgers.

"I can't wait to be coached by [Campanile] again and be back in his presence and around all of my old teammates like Darius Hamilton and Leonte Carroo and Razohnn Gross, Gary Nova," Wilkins said. "I played with them for two years and it was the best years of my life. Playing with those guys was the best time of my life. To get the opportunity to play with them again before they go off to big things, that means a lot."

Of his former teammates, Wilkins is most excited to reunite with Hamilton, who he described as an older brother.

"He took me under his wing and I've always looked up to him," Wilkins said. "I'm going to continue to look up to him. I asked him how he would feel if I committed to Rutgers and he told me he missed me and would love for me to come there."

Wilkins cited the coaching staff as his primary reason for choosing Rutgers outside of his pride for New Jersey.

"I want a place where the coaches are going to be honest with me," he said. "I feel like all of the coaches are straightforward. After talking with them and meeting all of them, I trust them. I've talked with Darius Hamilton about them and he loves them.

"There are no shortcuts. If they think you can play, you're going to play but you have to do your job and do what you're supposed to do. I like the honest. I talk to [defensive coordinator Dave] Cohen and [defensive line coach Jim] Panagos a lot. They seem like straightforward guys and I know coach Campanile is already."

Wilkins chose Rutgers over offers from Maryland, UCF, Boston College and Connecticut. After receiving an offer from coach Kyle Flood last week, he only had eyes for the Scarlet Knights.

Wilkins is the 26th member of the class of 2014 and second defensive tackle, joining Peter Mokwuah from Staten Island (N.Y.) St. Joseph by the Sea.

"I'm going to give it my all," Wilkins said. "I didn't play defense my whole life, but I guess they see something great inside me. When I get there and get on track, I'm going to bust my butt. I'll try my hardest."


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