The Rutgers football program remains on a roll with yet another verbal commitment on Tuesday, the fourth in the last 10 days. This time it's a local product as Somerville (N.J.) Immaculata center Mark Brazinski is the latest top player to pledge to head coach Greg Schiano.
Brazinski, a 6-foot-3, 297-pounder who lives in Basking Ridge, N.J., committed to Rutgers over Boston College, Florida State and Penn at a press conference at his school on Tuesday. One of the best pure centers in the country decided to stay close to home for many reasons.
"Rutgers was a place where I just got a really good feel," said Brazinski. "I've been there more than double-digit times and each time I left feeling more satisfied than when I arrived. It has everything I wanted."
Among the requirements for Brazinski was a good education, a good coaching staff and a feeling of fitting in.
"I want to get a business degress and probably go into Finance so they have a good program for that," he said. "The coaching staff is great and they have a young, energetic head coach and in meeting some of the players, recruits and people around the football program and the school I felt like I fit in. It was just a good feel overall, it's hard to explain."
Brazinski visited Boston College and has been to Penn to see his brother, Paul Brazinski, who is a lineman there. He never took a visit to Florida State but feels comfortable in his decision.
"The Florida State offer was flattering because it showed that I was noticed on a national level instead of just regionally," he said. "But I really liked Rutgers and have been there so much it's just the right place for me. I'll be playing center there and I hope to get a couple of good years of playing time in as well as a degree."
Brazinski noted his relationship with Schiano and offensive line coach Kyle Flood as big reasons for his comfort level at Rutgers.
"You have to have a good relationship with your position coach and I really like coach Flood," he said. "And you have to believe in your head coach and coach Schiano makes you believe."
Brazinski said he heard from Rutgers quarterback commitment Tom Savage from Pennsylvania a few times and they texted back and forth, but this decision was all his.
"I see they're putting together a great class and it's always good to see Rutgers be able to keep kids in state but also go out of state and get top players," he explained. "But this was for me because I'm the one who has to live with the decision and like it there and I know I will."
Will the four-star center recruit other players to Rutgers?
"I won't be pushy, I'm not like that," he said. "But I will try to recruit a few kids a bit, players I've gotten to know at camps and such. But it's everyone's own decision to make."
Brazinski made a name for himself by rushing to the line in one-on-ones at the Penn State NIKE Camp to face five-star defensive tackle William Campbell last month. He was the only lineman to win a rep against the 6-foot-5, 317-pounder.
"I was hoping he would be there because I heard he might show up," he said. "He was rolling some kids and I think I did okay against him but he's so strong and just so big. But you don't get better unless you go against the best so I wanted to face him every time. It was a great learning experience for me."
Brazinski first got noticed at a National Underclassmen Combine run by Dave Schuman a couple of years ago as a freshman with his hustle and work ethic.
The talented lineman is also known as a fun-loving kid and expects to spend his entire senior season in high school rather than try to enroll early. His humorous side comes out in many ways, including the choice of photo for this story.
"I want you to use the picture with the tuxedo t-shirt," he said. "It's kind of a joke of sorts on one of our rare dress-down days at school. It's my way of dressing up while dressing down so I got the shirt and wore it to Rutgers for a visit and of course a picture was taken. I kinda like it, I think it's funny."
Brazinski joins Jersey defensive lineman Michael Larrow, North Carolina running back Desmond Scott and Pennsylvania defensive end Jordan Hill as Rutgers commitments in the last 10 days.
As a junior, Brazinski was named first team all-league, first team all-conference and first team all-area as well as third team all-state AP.