OL Mertz Makes Saturday Visit to Rutgers

Raritan High (Hazlet, N.J.) offensive lineman Shane Mertz spent Saturday getting the full experience of a day at Rutgers. The 6-foot-8, 270-pounder made an unofficial visit with his parents and spent seven hours touring the campus and meeting with staff members, including a 90 minute face-to-face meeting with coach Greg Schiano. After arriving home from the visit, Mertz gave his thoughts on it.

Raritan High (Hazlet, N.J.) offensive lineman Shane Mertz attended Rutgers junior day and last month went to a spring practice, but it was nothing like the seven-hour unofficial visit he took Saturday.

Mertz got the full tour of the campus, met with members of the coaching staff and learned in-depth about Rutgers' engineering program.

"I got a more intense look of their entire facilities and a better feel about their whole football program,'' the 6-foot-8, 270-pound Mertz said. "I liked it. It was great, the whole experience. I was there for junior day but I got the full re-tour of the Hale Center, and it was a little bit more in-depth going around.''

During the day Mertz met with Rutgers' director of player development Tariq Ahmad, Mertz's recruiting coach, Robb Smith, offensive line coach Kyle Flood, academic dean Karl Kirschner and head coach Greg Schiano, who spent about 90 minutes speaking with Mertz and his parents.

"We sat down, my parents and I, in (Schiano's) office, and he talked all about the program, and where he was hoping it was going to head,'' Mertz said, "how they're contending for a national championship, and how they think they're going to reach it in the next couple of years.

"He was talking about the program, and how it is going up, and how the academics are great. I'm going to be an engineering major, so we spent a lot of time talking about engineering, and I got a good look of what it would be like if I were there.''

Rutgers' ability to get Mertz on campus and give him individual attention was key considering the way Mertz's recruitment has escalated lately.

In the last month Mertz received offers from Duke, Maryland, Central Florida, Rutgers and Boston College, which offered during the week. He also said Notre Dame and Pittsburgh are showing strong interest, and Michigan State came by Raritan High recently.

"Recently, it's picked up a lot,'' Mertz said. "There's a good two or three coaches in Raritan every day to see me. It's starting to get a little crazy, with coaches starting to pull me in different directions and different camps they want me to come to.''

Mertz said he has not decided where he will camp, but he has some ideas.

"If Notre Dame doesn't offer me before their camp, I'll probably end up going to their camp,'' Mertz said. "If they do offer me, I'll probably just make a visit there to check it out, more like a walk-around visit.''

Mertz said he plans on returning to see Duke in June because he is "highly interested" in the Blue Devils. He also plans to visit Maryland in June, and Pittsburgh could be on his travel list.

"I'm trying to figure out what my top schools are, but I've only been to Rutgers and Duke,'' Mertz said. "So, it's hard to tell what are my top schools right now, so I'm strictly going off engineering program, level of football.''

Mertz added he doesn't think he can truly narrow down his choices until he better understands what all the interested programs offer. He also wants to build a comfort level with the coaching staff's of the programs.

"Pitt came in (to Raritan High) and they said they were extremely interested, and they said they would be coming back with their offensive line coach next week to watch me lift,'' Mertz said. "I'm hoping they offer. I would definitely be highly interested in Pitt because I know they have great football, and they have good academic programs.

"And recently Boston College offered me. If I can, I'd like to figure out some time to get up there. I know they don't have an engineering program, but they said there are ways to work around it, where you can take math majors and things like that.''

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