Don Bosco Prep has generated the most buzz in the Garden State throughout this year’s edition of National Signing Day, and MSGVarsity.com was on hand to live-stream the big event at the Ramsey school.
On Wednesday morning, seven Ironmen football players faxed their respective national letters of intent and enjoyed a ceremony in the school’s auditorium in front of a bevy of reporters, coaches, family members and friends.
Darius Hamilton, Leonte Carroo, Elijah Shumate, Kyle Sakowski, Tyler Samra, Mike Casimos, and Michael Strizak all sported hats featuring the logo of their future destinations.
“This is one of my favorite days of the year,” said Greg Toal, who coached Don Bosco to its sixth straight Non-Public Group 4 title and second national championship in three years this past fall. “It’s the culmination of four years, hard work, adversity and toughness for the quality guys we have.”
Toal turned to the seven student athletes, decked with dark suit jackets, and offered, “Stay humble and don’t forget where you came from. The coaches love you very much and you always have a place here at Don Bosco. You didn’t become who you are by accident.”
The most prominent name of the talented group was defensive end Darius Hamilton, who verbally committed to Rutgers on “A Quick :60” on MSG Varsity iO Ch. 14 on Tuesday evening.
After dominating his team’s national title-clinching game with four sacks, Hamilton solidified his place as one of the premier defensive lineman in the country.
Hamilton is one of the most sought after recruits in the country and for good reason. He is part of a great football familty as well; Hamilton is the son of former Pitt All-American and New York Giants player Keith Hamilton. In the wake of Greg Schiano leaving Rutgers for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coaching job, the Scarlet Knights still landed the golden prize.
"It's a huge relief," said the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Hamilton, who brought along his family members and two best friends from the Don Bosco football team to enjoy the night's festivities at the MSG Varsity headquarters the previous night.
"I knew in my heart where I wanted to be. This was really cool to do it like we did. I tried to keep people guessing with my color schemes."
Joining Hamilton at Rutgers will be Carroo, the top wide receiver in New Jersey. The best pass-catching threat on the best team in the country, Carroo had verbally committed to play college ball at Rutgers next year. After Schiano left, though, there was some doubt he’d choose elsewhere. But, like Hamilton, playing in front of his hometown friends and family was a thought too enticing to pass up.
“The decision was definitely made for myself,” he said, wearing a black Scarlet Knights cap. “I love the coaching staff and I love my future teammates. When I went on my visit, I just loved the guys there.”
Shumate announced he will attend Notre Dame during the national broadcast of the U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio last month. The hard-hittng defensive back/running back helped anchor a potent Ironmen defense that paved the way for yet another undefeated campaign.
“What really set my decision was how it is one of the best academic schools in the country,” the Paterson native said.
Strizak was another reason why Don Bosco’s defense was so suffocating. The bookend opposite Hamilton, Strizak may be asked to play OLB while at Boston College next season but he is a good enough athlete to play multiple positions on the field. One of Don Bosco’s most consistent players, Strizak saw time in three of his four seasons under Toal.
“Boston College has a great football program and has great academics,” he said.
The unsung hero of this year's Ironmen squad was safety/wide receiver Kyle Sakowski, who signed with Lafayette. He claimed the coaches there mirror the passion Toal displays and that won him over.
Meanwhile, offensive linemen Tyler Samra and Mike Casimos signed with UConn and Akron, respectively.
Samra anchored a mauling Don Bosco offensive line from his left tackle position. Samra was an integral part of both the running and passing game for the Ironmen, who averaged a whopping 41 points a game.
Right next to Samra on the left side of the line is big 6-foot-4, 270-pound left guard Casimos. In addition to rushing for 170 yards per game, Don Bosco’s offense boasted a passing game that threw only two picks with the fantastic protection the front-five provided.
“I went on my visit last week and I just fell in love with it,” Casimos said.
Offensive coordinator Anthony Campanile was among the many coaches in attendance, and he had nothing but positive things to say about this group.
“We’re absolutely proud,” he gushed. “They’re such good kids and they deserve to be celebrated. These kids here don’t change a thing. They’re always tough. They’re great kids and they’re all going to do well.”
Contact Brian Fitzsimmons at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @FitzWriter