Page Talks (Really Early Morning) Commitment

Rutgers' second commitment of the 2011 class came from an expected person in Christopher Columbus High (Bronx, N.Y.) defensive tackle Al Page, but the way it happened has some comedic value. Page was so excited to commit after sleeping on it, he phoned Rutgers well before the sun came up. Page talked about his commitment, and got more serious in discussing why he chose the Scarlet Knights.

Al Page knew for months he was going to commit to Rutgers, but at least the upbeat, energetic defensive tackle from Christopher Columbus High (Bronx, N.Y.) has a fun story to tell about his commitment day.

After speaking to Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano at length Tuesday night, Page committed Wednesday morning. Early Wednesday morning.

Before-the-sun-comes-up in the morning early. And apparently before the person he called to commit was awake.

"I called (Schiano) six o'clock in the morning, woke him out of his bed to give him the good news,'' Page said with a hearty laugh. "I think he really was (sleeping). I called him once and he didn't pick up. I was like, ‘He must be sleeping. I'm going to wake him up.'

"So I called him again, he's like, ‘Al.' I said, ‘coach, I'm ready to commit.' It was great, but he was so tired. He said, ‘That's great, Al. I can't wait to tell all the other coaches.' ‘'

And when Schiano told defensive line coach Randy Melvin, well, let's just say Melvin better be working on his flexibility.

"Randy Melvin owes me cartwheel flips,'' Page said. "He said he would do them when I committed.''

On a more serious note, the 6-foot-3, 300-pound Page chose Rutgers because of his strong connection with Schiano, the proximity of the school to his home, the overall feeling he got every time he was on campus and from talking with the coaching staff, current players and other recruits.

The capper came earlier this month when his family, and Christopher Columbus coach David Diaz, visited campus, and spent time with Schiano.

"It was the family quality,'' Page said. "It's like a family, and that's going to be my family. From all the other schools that recruited me, the way Greg Schiano treated me, the way he felt about things, I couldn't see that in any other coach. There was something about him that I felt a positive vibe, and I knew I wanted to play for this man.''

The Scarlet Knights are getting a player who can stop the run, take on double teams and is explosive on the line of scrimmage.

"They're getting a character individual, first of all,'' said Diaz, who is in his 13th year at Christopher Columbus." Before we talk about his play, he's just a great kid. Very humble, very coachable. He always going to be there. He's the total package.

"As far as football, he was on jv for 2 or 3 games as a freshman, and then I moved him up to varsity and he was a starter from then on. He's probably the best player I ever coached.''

Of all the things that pushed Page to commit, it was a conversation he had with Schiano the night before prior that served as the final piece.

And during that conversation, Schiano told Page to wait until he was comfortable before making his decision. Less than 12 hours later, the comfort level was reached.

"Today was the day I just felt it,'' Page said. "The night before I had a conversation with Schiano on the phone, and he told me that he doesn't want me to rush into anything. He wants me to commit when I'm ready to commit, and when I'm ready to commit, just call him and let him know.

"I just slept on it, and in the morning I woke up and I just felt like I was ready to commit, ready to do it.''

Page also holds offers from Syracuse, Kansas and Maryland, and was getting strong interest from Penn State and Miami.

In fact, Page believes he was about to get offered by the Hurricanes and Nittany Lions, and had people close to him pushing for the higher profile schools.

"I feel relieved because now that I know what college I want to go to,'' Page said. "I'm going to focus on my grades, my SAT, and I'm going to focus on staying in shape and not getting hurt and get ready to play some football with the Scarlet Knights.

"There was some pressure. When people found out Penn State was recruiting me, they were like, ‘You need to go to Penn State.' When they found out Miami was recruiting me …everybody just wanted to be my voice. When I committed, I felt a lot of relief.''

Oh, and Page said improving his academics aren't a big thing, more a point of contention.

"My grades are fine,'' he said. "My last report card I had an 82 average.''

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