BERKELEY HEIGHTS — Jayson Schmidt has always relished causing havoc for opposing defenses and making things happen for the Gov. Livingston football team the past three years.
Next fall, The College of New Jersey and head coach Casey Goff will be the beneficiaries of the sturdy Schmidt’s athleticism and leadership.
Schmidt signed his national letter of intent to attend the college in Ewing in pursuit of his degree in mechanical engineering.
“I really was impressed with TCNJ, especially in how they honor academics,” said Schmidt, who rushed for a team-high 480 yards and seven touchdowns in leading the Highlanders to a 4-2 record last fall. “They emphasize academics, I loved the facilities and the coaching staff, and it’s close to home. I visited the campus and it seemed like the perfect place for me. I kind of knew that’s where I wanted to go.”
Schmidt, who also had 10 catches for 103 yards and an additional three touchdowns and registered a team-high 48 tackles on defense, closed his gridiron career for the Highlanders with 2,571 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns. On defense he finished with 88 tackles and three interceptions.
“I’m really excited for him and I think it’s the perfect place,” said Gov. Livingston football coach Dan Guyton. “I know he was high on coach Goff and TCNJ’s recruiting list. In 28 games, Jay had over 3,000 yards rushing and receiving and 36 touchdowns, and he never missed a game. He’s a great athlete, but I think the most impressive part about Jay is he is such a high-character individual. He will be tremendous down there in Ewing. We’re so happy that he was able to find the right fit.”
The Lions are also getting an outstanding all-around athlete as well in Schmidt, who will letter in four sports (football, basketball, wrestling and baseball) this school year. But it is football that was always special for Schmidt.
“I definitely think football is my best sport,” said the 5-11, 190-pounder, who also considered Ithaca, Rowan, Fairleigh Dickinson and Kean. “I love taking the field and trying to dominate in every aspect. I always liked offense more because there is something special about moving the ball against a good defense. I always found it satisfying to put together a drive against a good opponent. And, it’s fun to try and get into the open field with the ball, making guys miss, and scoring some touchdowns.”
Schmidt was also a fine receiver out of the backfield, where he finished with 38 receptions for over 400 yards and five touchdowns.
“I loved running routes out of the backfield, too,” added Schmidt, who finished with 88 tackles and three interceptions on defense in his career. “Being able to have good hands is an added value and I always thought that was a bit of an underrated part of my game. TCNJ has some good running backs but I’m hoping to get some snaps in the fall.”
Baseball coach Chris Roof has always been impressed with Schmidt’s all-around presence.
“Jayson is one of the best leaders I’ve been around in my 21 years as a head coach,” said Roof of his center fielder. “TCNJ is getting a very good football player, but even a better person.”