Samuel Vretman's football journey already took him across the Atlantic Ocean, so what's another two hours down the highway?
Vretman made a name for himself as an offensive lineman at Cheshire (Conn.) Academy. Now, the Swedish three-star offensive tackle feels ready to do the same against Big Ten competition.
Vretman signed financial aid paperwork Wednesday afternoon during a school ceremony. When spring sessions begin at Rutgers Jan. 17, Vretman will be there.
“It means a lot to do this,” he said. “Coming from Sweden and dreaming about one day playing college football and making it to Rutgers has been a dream of mine. Being younger and watching Signing Day and knowing what it means, it's so cool to be doing it myself.”
Vretman committed to Rutgers as a junior. After a summer in Sweden and senior season at Cheshire Academy, his commitment to Chris Ash never wavered, he said.
“Since they recruited me, especially with coach [AJ] Blazek and coach [Vince] Okruch, it felt great. The first time I stepped into the Hale Center, everything felt right with the culture. I feel like I made the right decision. Even with coach [Drew] Mehringer leaving for Texas, I don't care at all about it because the only coaches I wont to play for are coach Ash and coach Blazek and Okruch.”
The projected offensive tackle clicked with host Mike Lonsdorf during an official visit two weeks ago.
“He looks like me, so I guess that's all you need,” Vretman said. “I learned a lot from him.”
Vretman learned he won't be alone within Rutgers athletics. He met sophomore golfer Astrid Aneman, who also hails from Sweden.
“The funny thing is that when I was going through the admissions process for private schools, me and my family used a firm student-athlete adviser firm that helps people in the United States with the paperwork.” Vretman said. “She used the same company. The woman at the company knew who she was. Now I have someone else to talk Swedish to. Otherwise, I'd drive my parents crazy.”
“Coming into the visit, I was kind of nervous meeting all of the guys,” Vretman said. “I was a little nervous about how everything would be around the players but there was no problem at all. I really enjoyed everything. I'm close with Jamaal and Micah. I'll hang out with them a lot.”
Strength and conditioning coach Kenny Parker, along with assistants and nutrition director Allison Kreimeier.
“When I started playing football coming out of hockey, I was tall but I was probably 180 pounds,” Vretman said. “I couldn't even come close to benching 185-pounds. Over the years of working out and trying to stay up on my diet, I've come a long way physically. With coach Parker and everyone on the team, it's to the next level. I see how they work out and eat. I think I'll respond to their training.”