This past Saturday forced Rutgers to look to a new player at the center position. Redshirt freshman Mike Maietti stepped in for regular starter Jonah Jackson, who was nursing a sore back.
“It was awesome,” Maietti said post- game. “At first, I was a little nervous but some of the older guys who were next to me really helped me to calm down and I just played my game after the first hit. Being from New Jersey and being able to play in front of my home state is really awesome.”
Maietti was a late commit in the RU recruiting class of 2016. Up until two days before signing day, he was committed to the University of New Hampshire, an FCS program. Less than two years later, he has been able to start his first game as a Big Ten center.
However, it was all business on the field for Maietti.
“I have done it a lot of times, but it is exciting to get the first start in college,” he said. “I think I did good. Coach [AJ] Blazek came up to me and said I did well and that he was proud of me.”
Maietti also said he felt prepared for what turned out to be his first bout of playing time at the college level.
“It was natural. I was ready for everything. Coach Blazek shows us all the looks, so we get to see all that during the week.”
Over the past six months, Maietti is a player who has made exceptional strides and he mentioned what has gone into that progression.
“Just the confidence Coach Blazek put in me. I just took what he taught us and ran away with it. I also got a lot stronger. I am 291 [pounds] and I have never been this heavy. [Strength] Coach [Kenny] Parker really helps.”