But, one of the state's finest, among the very top in terms of numbers of scholarship offers in the state, decided he wanted to stay in New Jersey and help his home school take the next step. We are of course talking about Rutgers' first pledge, Kevin Malast.
He could very well be the prize recruit of this year's class. Yet, very little is known about him. That is because Kevin Malast decided to end his recruitment early - very early. So early that most fans hadn't even heard of the Shore Conference prospect.
Malast barely gave fans any post-LOI day breathing room upon his commitment. Less than two weeks removed from LOI-day, the talented prospect and multi-sport athlete decided to pull the trigger, end his recruitment, and join Rutgers.
"There was no convincing me. There was no way I would have changed my mind. This was exactly where I wanted to be for the next four years. I was sure." And landing Malast was no small feat. Boasting an offer from Ole Miss, with strong interest from a number of other schools, it hardly mattered. Even his Rutgers commitment took some time to catch wind, as if no prospect could actually pledge this early, especially one that could garner national recognition if he waited just a few more months. "I guess it took a little bit of time for the news to get there," Malast stated, referring to a number of other schools that had decided to continue to recruit him. An offer from Virginia quickly followed. Then Syracuse. Then an offer from Iowa. In all, there were nine scholarship offers that came in - by that time Malast had made it abundantly clear to coaches around the country that he simply was not interested.
He was not going to play the game. He wanted to be at Rutgers.
Malast, probably more than others, due to his early decision, may want to get the signing and assorted festivities out of the way. He has been waiting for this for the longest time.
"My mind hasn't really been on it, thinking about signing day too much, because I have wrestling to keep me busy. But since I've been committed for so long and I've been waiting for so long it's nice to finally get it over with, to finally get that last part of my commitment done with."
Malast, like many of his fellow footballers around the state and country, will have a busy day on Letter of Intent day.
"Well, we're going to be faxing the letter in the morning, at 7 AM. Then after 8 AM, at the school, we have a photo session with my father and my brother and my three season coaches (referring to football, wrestling, and baseball) for the school. Then after school, we have to go down to the Asbury Park Press at 2:45 PM for another photo session. They're going to be taking photos with the other three Shore Conference players to be going to D-1."
Sounds like quite a day. Certainly, after all that running around, and meeting the schedules of others, Malast will set some relaxation time at the end, to wind down. Right?
"Well, tomorrow is kind of a crazy day. After everything during the day, I also have a big wrestling match. If I win tomorrow it will be my 100th career win." The match also has important implications for his HS, with a win setting up subsequent matches, each of greater importance.
The kind of individual that Malast is, cannot be better personified than his typical day, which consists of work, throughout. Whether it is football, in the classroom, baseball, or wrestling, Malast, a die-hard Rutgers fan, isn't concerned about the accolades. He's concerned with accomplishments.
"My parents, they fell in love with the school, just as I did. My mom, she really likes the educational perspective and the educational opportunity at Rutgers. She is really excited about that."
In Malast, Rutgers gets itself a true fan of the school. How often is it mentioned that New Jersey's best go out of state and ignore the almighty green pastures available right here? Fans should be fully aware that one of New Jersey's finest wouldn't even listen to others' sales pitch. He would have none of it.
Because he loves Rutgers.
"I'm really excited. I can't wait to get there."
Mike and the Big Dog LLC