Top New Jersey Defensive End Mike Tverdov ‘Very Solid’ to Rutgers

UNION, N.J. -- While programs continue to recruit Mike Tverdov, New Jersey’s top defensive end in 2017 remains firm in his commitment to Rutgers. Tverdov spoke to Scarlet Report about Rutgers and what he needs to see this season.

Mike Tverdov cited his desire to stay home and follow his heart two months ago when he committed to Rutgers.

Evidently, he still feels the same now.

“It’s crazy, you know?” he said. “That whole month (of July) it had felt like I committed the next day … I couldn’t be happier. I love coach (Chris) Ash, that whole coaching staff. We’re going to be great one day. I know we are.”

As the top defensive end in New Jersey, Tverdov chose Rutgers over a handful of other finalists. While those programs and other suitors are still on him, Tverdov said he is “very solid” to Rutgers and does not plan to look into visits anywhere else.

“Schools reach out to me here and there,” he said. “I still get mail, but a commitment’s a commitment. If you’re still thinking about visits or taking visits, you’re not committed.”

The 6-foot-3.5, 231-pounder from Union (N.J.) Senior High attended Rutgers’ Big Ten opener against Iowa on Saturday. The visit will not be his last of the season, he said.

“I’m going to try to get out to almost all of the home games,” Tverdov said. “It’s just difficult sometimes with my schedule and everything because we usually have practice the next morning. But if I’m not at the game, I’m always watching it on TV.”

Tverdov said he watches the Rutgers defensive line closely — namely senior captains Darius Hamilton and Julian Pinnix-Odrick.

“It’s funny because, like, Darius, he’s kind of been the role model for me when I was in middle school because I remember watching him at Don Bosco and I was like, ‘That guy kind of plays like me,’ because we’re not the biggest guys out there, we’re not the strongest,” Tverdov said. “We’re one of the technicians. So Darius, I feel like, is a lot like me. We’re very soft-spoken people, but we’re leaders on the gridiron and we do the right thing off the football field.

“And JPO, he actually coached me up my freshman year when I went to the Rutgers camp. I doubt he remembers, but just stuff like that, building relationships with those types of guys. I know I’m a guy for that room even with the underclassmen there and the new D-line commits. So we all have a good relationship. I feel like I could sit in that room tomorrow and be close with them.”

Tverdov remains in constant contact with the Rutgers coaching staff two months after his commitment.

“I talk to (defensive line) coach (Shane) Burnham, coach (Matt) Hewitt, (offensive line) coach (AJ) Blazek almost on a regular-day basis,” he said. “So I’ve always had a strong relationship ever since they got hired and what not.

“But coach Burnham’s the man. He did a great job at Iowa State producing those defensive linemen. And so far this season, the (Rutgers) defensive line looks great. So I’ve been to a few practices, seen what he can do and I know he’s going to make me a fantastic player.”

Regardless of what Rutgers’ record is at the end of the year as it goes through its transition under Ash, Tverdov hopes to see one thing.

“Just to … keep the gas on the whole game,” he said. “Never quit — because no matter what the score is, as long as you give it your best, you can go home satisfied. No matter what the score is.

“You always want to win, but sometimes it doesn’t go your way. Rutgers, we’re known not to quit — put it in the past. But as long as they just keep fighting, doing what they do, we’ll take care of some games this year.”


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