Jersey Shore OL Makes Rutgers Trip

Rutgers recently increased its recruitment of an offensive lineman from the Jersey Shore, and it was something he was hoping would happen. The player was on campus Monday to meet with the coaching staff, watch practice and get a better understanding of what he needs to do to earn an offer. He also discussed his summer camp schedule, and who leads in his recruitment.

In the last few months Rutgers increased its recruitment of Raritan High (Hazlet, N.J.) offensive lineman Shane Mertz, and the 6-foot-8, 270-pounder responded by making an unofficial visit to the campus.

Mertz attended Monday's practice, saw the facilities and met with several members of the coaching staff.

"I was with (director of player development) Tariq (Ahmad) the entire time,'' Mertz said. "He gave me a tour of the whole Hale Center, and then I went on the field and watched practice with him and (assistant coach) Robb Smith, who is my recruiting coach.

"Then he brought me over to coach (Greg) Schiano, and I talked to coach Schiano and (strength coach) Jay Butler for about 10 minutes, and then coach Schiano came with me to meet my mom in the parking lot.''

During Mertz's conversation with Schiano, the message of how to earn a scholarship offer from Rutgers was broached.

"Coach Schiano said he really wants me to go the (lineman camp), then I'm going to go to a one-day camp in June,'' Mertz said. "I definitely want to go to the (lineman camp) because there's going to be a high level of competition, and that's what I want to see.

"Coach (Smith) said he's going to be down at Raritan a lot, and coach (Kyle) Flood, the offensive line coach, said he's going to be down to watch me work out, and coach Schiano said he would probably be back.''

Mertz is also being recruited by Duke, Central Florida and Northwestern – he plans to camp at each school -- but each school has the same concern.

Mertz finished his junior season weighing less than 250 pounds. He is on a 5,000-calorie-a-day eating program, but schools want to see if he can maintain the weight.

Duke and Central Florida have said they will offer, but he is waiting for the written offers. In the meantime, Mertz is visiting campuses, and Rutgers gave him an opportunity to compare programs.

"(Rutgers) is really high-paced,'' Mertz said. "It's a lot faster than I've seen going to other colleges. I went to Duke's spring game, and it's a higher tempo at Rutgers. I can see the different level.''

While at Rutgers, Mertz also had a chance to speak with another Jersey Shore lineman. He spent part of the practice talking with Rob Forst, the Rutgers signee from Manasquan (N.J.) High.

"He told me all about what factored into his decision,'' Mertz said. "He wants to be a mechanical engineer, just like I want to be, and Rutgers has a great engineering program.

"He said everything was great. I was told all the things, like the food, and everything is right there, and they take care of you with the training staff, and everything looks good.''

A few weeks ago Mertz wasn't sure if the Scarlet Knights were interested, so he placed them down on his list.

Now, with Rutgers increasing its interest, the top of Mertz's list has a different feel.

"Duke is probably still No. 1 on my list right now, but Rutgers is catching up to them,'' Mertz said. "Once they start recruiting me a lot, and I hear more stories, and how Rutgers has such a great program, it's going to be a hard decision. But right now it's between Duke and Rutgers, and they're both right up there.''

Scarlet Report Top Stories