When did you first start playing football? Any early recollections of playing football?
I started playing football in elementary school and that’s when I fell in love with it. I enjoyed every aspect of the game from the high intensity, constant collisions, the competitive atmosphere, and especially the brotherhood you form with your teammates. There are so many memories from my early years of playing football, but one that really sticks out is winning the A-division Super Bowl in 8th grade at our home field. As a kid, that was one of the most memorable football experiences.
What’s your favorite memory of playing for the Raiders?
It’s hard to pick one favorite memory from my Raider football career because there are so many that come to mind, but one of the best moments came during my junior season. We had started the season 0-3 and were coming into week 4 getting ready to face Irvington, who was ranked 15 in the state at the time. Just about everyone in the state had us losing by at least 3 scores, but our team had different plans. We flipped the predictions and won 34-12. It was a combination of trust in one another, perseverance and grit. It is a game I will never forget.
Do you have a favorite NFL or college football team? Any favorite players?
As a North Jersey kid growing up 10 minutes from MetLife Stadium, I became a big Giants fan. However, my favorite player is across the country in San Francisco. My favorite player is Reuben Foster of the 49ers. I became a fan of Reuben Foster when he played in college at Alabama. I love the way he plays the game and he is one of the hardest hitters I’ve seen. He’s fun to watch and I try to play the way he does, with passion and intensity.
You switched from LB to DE, and from fullback to center. How did those transitions go?
The transition from linebacker to defensive end wasn’t very difficult. In fact, it was pretty easy because as a defensive end, I do not have any pass coverage responsibilities except to beat the guy in front of me and get the quarterback. On the other side of the ball, moving from fullback to center was a bit of a challenge. As a fullback, I was essentially another blocker that got the ball once in a while. However, at center, you are “in the trenches,” as true linemen call it. It’s a totally different aspect of the game that has taught me a lot in terms of X’s and O’s.
As a captain, how do you inspire your teammates?
First of all, being voted captain by my teammates has been an honor and truly means a lot to me. I have learned from my former team captains that leading by example is best. Giving 100 percent all the time is how I feel that I can inspire my team. I have also learned that to be a good leader, you have to be a servant. I work hard for my team and in turn, they do the same. I’m a pretty vocal player and being vocal in games and on the practice field is also a way I try to inspire my teammates, but I feel that my actions are what set the tone and expectations as a captain.
Besides playing football, what else do you do for fun?
With sports and school work, I really don’t have much free time. I’m also not one of those kids who play video games. I enjoy going out and spending time with my friends and family.
You’re a senior. Any post-graduation plans?
This past summer, I committed to Rutgers University in New Brunswick to play baseball. I will continue my academic and athletic career there. Football is going to be something I will miss dearly, and as the clock winds down on my senior season, it’s going to be extremely difficult for me to give up.
If you could vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I would love to drive across the United States. The farthest I’ve been in the United States is Texas. I enjoy learning about the different cultures, and there are so many within our own country. A road trip across the U.S. would be the adventure of a
“He is playing great at defensive end- one of our captains. He is the most selfless player I have coached. Twice he moved his position to help the team. Last year he moved from LB to DE and this year he moved from FB to center. Very tough kid- plays hard at on every snap and is a terrific role model for our younger players- leading the team in sacks.”
– Head coach Steve DiGregorio