Weighty Issue for Mertz

Rutgers was recruiting the Jersey Shore lineman in the fall and he attended Junior Day two months ago, but are the Scarlet Knights still after him? Raritan High (Hazlet, N.J.) offensive tackle Shane Mertz talks about the Scarlet Knights, outlines his summer schedule and reveals who his top two schools are at this stage of the recruiting process.

When Shane Mertz strolls into the Rutgers Big Man Academy camp in the summer, the Scarlet Knights coaches will see a much different body than the one they scouted last season, and saw at Junior Day a few months ago.

The 6-foot-8 Mertz, who plays offensive tackle for Raritan High (Hazlet, N.J.), is taking part in an extensive offseason workout regimen. He already added 30 pounds, which is something recruiters were telling Mertz they wanted to see before offering him a scholarship.

"They want to see a weight gain,'' he said. "I ended the season last year at 240, and right now I'm out about 270. It's an over 5,000 calories-a-day diet, working out five days a week.

"I've been going to speed and agility classes the entire time, two or three times a week, to keep my speed up, and my vertical leap has stayed the same, my 10-yard dash has stayed the same. Everything has stayed the same.''

Mertz's goal is be 285 pounds for the start of the season, but before he gets there, he will take a whirlwind tour in an effort to increase his visibility.

He holds offers from Duke and Central Florida, and is getting interest from Rutgers, North Carolina and Northwestern.

"I hoping once I start going to the camps in June that's when the offers are going to start,'' Mertz said. "I'm definitely going to the UCF camp, I'm definitely going to the Northwestern camp, I'm definitely going to the Rutgers Big Man Academy, and most likely going to Duke's camp.''

However, Mertz said since former tight ends coach Joe Susan left Rutgers in late January, he is not hearing much from the Scarlet Knight's staff.

"Coach Susan was my recruiting coordinator,'' Mertz said. "He was at my high school a few times, and when I went to Junior Day, he came back with coach Schiano and met me. "I was very interested in Rutgers. They were probably my No. 1 school for a long time, but now that they've kind of died down, Duke and UCF have stepped up to my No. 1 and No. 2 spot.''

However, there is plenty of time for ground to be made up if Rutgers' interest increases again. Mertz said he will not make a decision for a while, waiting until either his senior season or after it.

"I'm expecting my next year's play is going to be much better than my last year's play because I'm going to be so much heavier,'' he said. "I could get more offers during the season, and after the season as well.''

Scarlet Report Top Stories