By John Goralski
For three years, Travis Clark has anchored the Blue Knight offensive line. For two seasons, Nick Spitz has anchored the defense. Justin Rose had just one year with the defense, but he led the team in tackles, fumble recoveries, and interrupted passes.
Together, they helped lead the team back into the postseason for the first time since 2007. But as hard as they hit opponents at the line of scrimmage, they were hitting the books. On Thursday, May 2, that hard work finally paid off.
One will study at a technical school. Another will attend a Catholic institution in Rhode Island, while the last one prepares for a collegiate career at a local prep school.
But all of them will be playing football.
“It’s an achievement to go on to play at the next level, and not everybody can do that,” said Blue Knight football coach Mike Drury. “They’re ready. They’re excited, and it’s a great day. It was good to get the guys together and recognize the hard work that they’ve put in.”
Clark will attend Worcester Poly Technical Institute (WPI) where he hopes to immerse himself in engineering studies while he works his way onto their varsity line. He was a captain last fall, and was named to the all-conference roster. Drury said that he has a chance to play for the Division III Engineers this fall.
“He was our only three-year starter, and he can play any position on the line,” said Drury. “For two years, he played center. He played guard. He played tackle for us. Anywhere we needed him, he was able to go to that spot and play at a high level. They saw that and saw a kid that had the academic piece. With that school, that’s what they’re looking for.”
Clark said that he selected WPI for its educational opportunities, and he hopes to pursue studies in engineering. “I’m 75 percent sure that I want to go into engineering—maybe chemical engineering,” he said. “I want to go to college to figure out what I want to do and see if it is a fit for me.”
Like Clark, Spitz has a chance to work his way into the lineup at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island. As a senior, Spitz finished second on the team with 93 tackles but led the team with tackles in the backfield (14). He was named as an all-conference player last fall, and will play in the upcoming Military Bowl All-Star game at Rentschler Field.
“They watched him on film, and they know he’s a great tackler,” said Drury. “My communication with them was about his leadership ability because you can’t see that on film. He was a great leader for us, defensively and with the team.”
Rose turned to the Knights as a senior, and his impact was felt at once. The three-sport athlete managed to lead the defense in tackles (99) and was named to the all-conference roster as a linebacker. Rose will try to build his experience next year at Avon Old Farms to hone his skills for a college career.
“I think it will be a good step for him to grow academically and physically. I think this was a good decision on his part, especially for a kid that just came out this year to play for us,” said Drury. “He played a little bit his freshman year, but I didn’t even know he was in the building until he came out this year.”
Drury said that the signings were the icing on the cake, and he hopes it serves as an example for his underclassmen. It takes more than just skill to make it to the next level. It takes hard work and commitment.
“Every one of them has been a great worker within our program. Colleges want to know if they can play the game, and all of these guys can play. Then, it’s their academics. The bottom line is that academics is the number one piece in this process,” he said. “This means that we’re preparing the guys the way that we need to, and they’re following through and doing what they need to do. I’m proud of them.”
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