Paramus (N.J.) Catholic safety Najee Clayton won a state championship in New Jersey, and wants to bring bigger trophies to his state at the college level.
The three-star safety announced his verbal commitment to Rutgers Monday afternoon, and said he already feels like a part of the program.
“They’re a family and I am a part of that now,” Clayton said. “I believe in coach [Kyle] Flood’s vision for our program. We’re heading in the right direction with a couple more players. We can do special things in the Big Ten. Definitely.”
Clayton chose Rutgers over Pittsburgh and Syracuse finalists. Doing something in his home state brings special meaning to Clayton, and led him to Rutgers in the final week before National Signing Day.
“My vision is definitely different than everyone else’s,” Clayton said. “It’s easy to go to another program that’s already been there. It’s hard to do something that people doubt that you can do. I really believe in building something special at Rutgers, winning a Big Ten Championship, all of that. That all comes through hard work and I’m ready for it.”
Rutgers went 8-5 in its first Big Ten season, and Clayton wants to see another step forward in 2015. The Scarlet Knights host national champion Ohio State at High Point Solutions Stadium this year in what is a marquee schedule for Flood.
“I definitely feel ready for the challenge,” Clayton said. “I believe that if I come in and work hard and believe in my family, the Big Ten Championship, all of it’s going to come together. It’s about working hard. It’s about pushing yourself every single day.”
Clayton played alongside five-star defensive tackle Rashan Gary as a senior. Rutgers was Gary’s first offer, and Clayton wants him as a college teammate.
“At the end of the day, that’s my little brother,” Clayton said. “I’m not going to force him to make a decision to come to Rutgers. I will let him know that it’s definitely a family down here. He knows that. I’ll encourage him to go out and see other schools too because everyone has to do what’s best for them at the end of the day.”