HOLLYWOOD, Fla.-Early in the morning a well-dressed, ready for business Djwany Mera entered the quaint high school conference room with his older brother, Tchesmy by his side. By the look on his face, you could tell he was nervous. After all it was National Signing Day and Mera was just moments away from officially declaring Rutgers University as his choice.
Others courted Mera but in the end it came down to two: Illinois and Rutgers. Mera made his choice based on education not athletics.
"It seemed like Rutgers would help me more towards getting my education," said the soft-spoken Mera.
A 250 lb. defensive end that doubled both as a football player and a wrestler in high school, Mera has not declared a major yet but apparently already knows what he wants. Flanked by defensive coach, Roger Mitchell and head coach Alan Held, Mera put pen to paper and officially became a Scarlet Knight.
This was welcome news to his family, not just because he's starting a new chapter in his life but also because he was given an opportunity at life. Mera is from Haitian decent. His mother still resides in Haiti and was present when the now infamous 7.0 earthquake rocked the small island.
"At the time we was still worried about her because we couldn't reach her and we was scared-we was like worried for her but we try to do our best to help out with the situation," recalls Mera.
Fortunately for Mera, his mother lives in Plaisance, a city NW of Gonaïve and 50 miles north of Port-au-Prince. The earthquake did not affect her or the rest of her family in Haiti but that has not stopped her son from helping out. Mera and his family have been sending money and clothes to his family in Haiti to help them through this trying time.
Stateside, Mera has also been taking care of business. South Broward High School Defensive Coach, Roger Mitchell recalls that when Mera first began playing football, he was "tall and lanky" and in general a "raw young kid". Mera, not one to shy away from a challenge, didn't stay that way. He worked hard and proved himself and his coaches took notice.
"You could see that each time he had success on the football field that he would just build off of it," says Mitchell. "His work ethic is second to none. His motor is constantly running from the beginning of the play to the whistle."
Alan Held agrees.
"The first time that we saw him on the field, we knew that he was going to be a pretty good ball player for us," muses Held.
His senior year alone was proof of this. Mera made 22 sacks and 103 tackles just last year. However, the 6-foot-4 DE has his work cut out for him at Rutgers. He is joining a Scarlet Knights roster that boasts five defensive ends, 4 of which will be seniors next season. If Mera wants to catch up, he's going to have to learn fast. Listening to the introverted Mera, he doesn't seem too anxious about next year.
"If I just do what I have to do, then I don't have nothing to worry about," says Mera.
Not one to boast, this is about the boldest statement you will get from the humble Mera. He prefers to let his actions do the talking, a plan he will continue when he begins practice in a Scarlet Knights uniform.