With the lead up to MyCentralJersey.com Snapple Bowl XX starting to build, I was asked my comments on the game and the participation of Kean University as a game host.
With the proliferation of great athletes in both Middlesex and Union counties, Kean is the ideal place to hold this special event.
Head coach Dan Garrett and his staff at Kean has done such a great job at changing the climate and the perception of Kean University football, much like the higher profile job Greg Schiano did at Rutgers. Prior to coach Garrett’s arrival, Kean University was not a desirable location for many of the high school football players in Central Jersey.
That has changed considerably in the past five years.
This year, I am proud that two of my graduating seniors, Naji Johnson and Josue Romero, have selected Kean as a place to continue their academic and athletic careers. The quality of players Kean has begun to attract has quickly risen as evidenced by these two outstanding football players.
Josue Romero was selected first-team All-State, named to the 2012 Super 100 team and earned first-team All-Area honors from the Home News Tribune as a defensive end. Naji Johnson was also an All-Area selection and his physical play and tireless work ethic at fullback will be quickly appreciated by the Kean coaching staff and fan base.
Both of these players had opportunities to attend much larger schools, in many different parts of the country, but the attention and comfort level they reached during the recruiting process with coach Garrett and his staff led both to choose to stay closer to home.
One big drawing card for graduating football players towards Kean is the first-class facilities for the athletes. The state-of-the-art playing surface is just one of the positives in the Kean athletic department.
I was lucky to be a part of the Snapple Bowl staff the last time the game was played at Kean and was blown away by the athletic building. From first-class meeting rooms and classrooms, to an athletic training facility that is second-to-none I have ever seen. Despite its stature as a Division III university, the Kean athletes enjoy treatment that can only be found at much larger Division I institutions.
Finally, the fact that Kean University has opened its doors to a great charity says a lot about where the university is headed. Not many schools would be willing to make available their facilities the way Kean has done. It is a true testament to the type of people running the university that they would be willing to allow the MyCentralJersey.com Snapple Bowl to invade their campus during the summer months, when schools are typically quiet.
Marcus Borden has done so much for both of the charities involved in the game, as well as so much for local high school football players, that it is nice to see when other people work with him to donate time and resources to make it truly the best all-star game in the state.
From the coaches who donate their summer time, away from their own teams and family, to the cheerleaders and all the support staff, everyone who plays a role in the game, no matter how big or small should be commended for their effort.
I wish everyone involved in the game continued success and look forward to a great football game.