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February 7, 2013

A special day for Cioffi

It was a long wait until signing day for Jonathan Dayton High School senior Anthony Cioffi. He committed to Rutgers almost one year ago and became the first commit to RU's class of 2013.

But he knew he wanted to become a Scarlet Knight long before that.

As a seventh-grader, Cioffi and his father took the short trip from Springfield to Piscataway for a Thursday night game between Rutgers and Cincinnati.

"As we were going to the stadium, he wasn't saying a word," said Anthony's father, Jerry Cioffi. "He's usually talkative. He said to me, 'Dad, I want to play here. Can I play here?' I told him he can, but he has to work. There are steps you have to take."

Sitting through those four quarters of play against Cincinnati also made quite an impression.

"I was very excited," Cioffi said. "I was asking my dad 'why is it so loud?' I always wanted to be a part of it ever since then."

That night enabled Cioffi to set a goal for himself. And that goal was officially realized yesterday when Cioffi signed his letter of intent to Rutgers University.

But there was more to realizing that goal than just standout play on the football field.

"It's all about school, it's not just about sports. That made him a better student, knowing that to achieve his goal he needed to do good in school," Jerry explained. "That propelled him and made him a really good student. I'm grateful for that."

Yesterday morning inside Jonathan Dayton High School was the culmination of all Cioffi's hard work. It was business as usual for the rest of the students at Dayton. But inside a classroom during the late morning hours, a group of 30 people gathered for Cioffi's Signing Day ceremony.

Cioffi's family, teachers and coaches took some time to share their thoughts on the monumental day. Some of them even choked up as emotion made its way into their words.

However, that strong showing of support has always been a constant for Cioffi.

"That's how I've been brought up, with a lot of people pulling for me," Cioffi said. "And I couldn't ask for a better venue today. This is what I pictured, when I went to bed; all my family being here and all the people that matter to me.""

February 19th, 2012 was the exact date of Cioffi's commitment to Rutgers. At times over the past year, waiting to officially sign on became a tough task.

"I was anxious," Cioffi said. "As a player, I always want to compete but I did want to get this over with. Enough is enough. I played the waiting game long enough."

Cioffi also admitted that sleep did not come easy for him on the eve of Signing Day.

"I had to put on ESPN just to dull my mind," he said.

Cioffi is now in the midst of a stellar senior campaign on the basketball court but now that he is officially a Scarlet Knight, he'll be looking to get down to Rutgers as much as possible.

"I'm going to try to get down there for the meetings, for lifting. I'm going to try and start to put a schedule together that doesn't conflict with basketball or anything. During the spring, I want to get down there a lot so I know the playbook and so I can work out with everybody."

And when Cioffi makes his next trip down to Rutgers, it will no longer be as just a high school senior but as an official member of the Rutgers football program.

"It's kind of all surreal and it hasn't really set in," Cioffi said.

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