J.B. Fitzgerald, the 6-foot-3, 225 pound linebacker from Princeton Junction, N.J., has 11 scholarship offers with two more on the horizon. He says he's received scholarship letters from Duke, Stanford, Michigan, Rutgers, Wake Forrest, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Northwestern and Iowa. He slightly favors the Wolverines, the Scarlet Knights and the Trojans - who have yet to offer the W.W.P.H.S.-South Campus prospect.
"I can't say I have a strong favorite or favorites," said Fitzgerald, who reports a 4.7 forty time. "I want to see what each school has to offer before I rule anyone out. Right now, I'd say I like Rutgers, Michigan and USC. If I got an offer from the Trojans, that might change things a little bit.
"I took an unofficial to Michigan the second week of February," he said. "I liked the program a lot. They really showed off their tradition….how much of a part of life it is to them. I got to sit down with Coach (Lloyd) Carr for 20 minutes and that's when I got the offer. Then he sat with me and my dad at the basketball game that night. I can't say enough about what a great guy he is. He is so down-to-earth and easy to talk to. All the coaches are like that there.
"I like Rutgers a lot….a lot more than I expected to," he said. "It the home school for me, about 25 minutes away. I went to junior day there and was quite impressed with everything. The facilities are the nicest I think I've seen. I wasn't always a big fan of Rutgers, but I just really like the direction the program is going. Coach (Greg) Schiano was very impressive. He gave this speech that was so inspiring and it really got into my head. It was about how of all the in-state kids who left New Jersey to play…only two have come back with national championships. I'd love to play for him.
"USC just started showing interest. They called my coach last week wanting to see some film on me. If I got an offer from them it would be a huge deal for me. My family is from southern California, so I grew up watching the Trojans. I still have family there, so distance isn't a big deal."
Fitzgerald said Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech are planning on offering. "Both Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech have said there are offers on the table, but they want to see me before they make them official. I guess think want to look at my size, which I can understand. I think I'm going to Georgia Tech next weekend or the weekend after. Pittsburgh is about a five-hour drive, so I'll get there sometime this spring.
"The three main guidelines in picking a school for me are good academics, which you can pretty much find in every school. Of course, I want a strong program…who doesn't want to win? And then I have the 'feel factor'…it just has to feel right all around to me."
Fitzgerald, who benches 245 pounds and squats 385 pounds, said his strength is his intensity. Last season he had 93 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and three fumbles caused.
"I have a real nose for the ball and I'm know to be a very intense player," he said. "I don't mess around. I want to work on my strength and agility. Right now, I'm okay…I'd say average, but I want to pump it up for the next level."
He reports a 3.4 core GPA and is awaiting SAT results from his March 17 test.