Sparta (N.J.) Pope John XXIII offensive lineman Sam Howson knew the final destination before he embarked Friday on an official visit to Rutgers.
A projected center or guard that transformed his body as a senior with Pope John, Howson officially made himself Rutgers-bound with a verbal commitment Sunday to coach Chris Ash.
Ash and line coaches AJ Blazek (offense) and Shane Burnham (defense) uncovered Howson during January visits to Pope John and add a commitment from the motivated 6-foot-4, 280-pounder.
“It’s awesome to know I have a chance to represent New Jersey where I grew up,” said Howson, who chose Rutgers over Maine, Monmouth and Wagner. “Seeing all of the talent leave the state, it’s hard to see. Getting a chance to represent it, I’m excited. It’s a great opportunity.”
Howson and Blazek hit it off on both the official visit and an in-home Wednesday before the formal scholarship offer came. Howson also built a relationship with sophomore Zack Heeman – his weekend host.
“Talking with [Blazek], he said he sees a little bit of himself in me with the way I love to finish things,” Howson said. “I don’t quit until the job gets done. I work hard, and I’m a tough guy. I look up to him that way and I see some of myself in him as well, so I figure it’s a good relationship.”
Rutgers fans can expect 100 percent effort and focus from Howson when he arrives.
“I’m a guy that’s going to come in no matter what the circumstances and always work hard,” he said. “I’m going to work harder than anyone else. I have toughness. I’m a blue-collar guy that shows up to work every day. That’s what you can expect. … I’m [a lineman that is] just about driving people to the ground. Nothing beats that feeling.”
Pope John, where Rutgers will be active next year with talented lineman Dalyn Wade-Perry, is also the former home of Ohio State’s Noah Brown, who chose the Buckeyes over the Scarlet Knights in 2013.
“It’s awesome to have a chance to play against him,” Howson said. “Noah Brown left a legacy at Pope John that everyone knows about. To have a chance to play against him is awesome but just to play for Rutgers in general is awesome. Add that factor and it’s unbelievable.”