Union was one game away from playing for a state championship last fall.
A big reason for that was the play of junior two-way standout Mike Tverdov.
Dennis McCarthy of his annual Dennis McCarthy Report ranks the Rutgers-bound Tverdov as Union County’s No. 1 college-bound senior.
“He has great intensity,” McCarthy said. “He’s very quick and very well-skilled with the use of his hands. He’s a top-flight prospect.”
Similar words were spoken about Peter Tverdov some 12 years ago. Peter, Mike’s older brother, played at Rutgers from 2005-2008 after graduating from Union in 2005.
As a junior, Peter Tverdov started at tight end and linebacker on Union’s 2003 team that reached the North 2, Group 4 final.
As a senior this fall, Mike Tverdov would like to say that he played on Union’s first team that captured a North 2, Group 5 championship.
Here’s what McCarthy has to say about who he feels are Union County’s top 10 college-bound prospects for 2016 and the positions he feels will suit them best for the next level:
1-Mike Tverdov, DE, Union, (6-4, 240):
“Great intensity, very quick and very well-skilled
with the use of his hands.”
2-Owen Kessler, DE, Westfield, (6-4, 225):
“Similar to Tverdov. Very intense, quick and
solid use of his hands.”
Kessler played on the best defense in Union County
last year and one of the best in the state, with the
Blue Devils yielding only 8.58 points per game.
3-Al-Tariq Jones, DB, Union, (6-1, 190):
“A cornerback who might turn out to be a safety
in college. Great cover skills. A tall cover. Will
match up very well.”
4-Joseph Stuckey, S, Hillside, (5-11, 190):
“Reminds me a great deal of Jerron McMillian of
Hillside who played with Green Bay.”
5-Jahmin Muse, WR-S, Elizabeth, (6-2, 190):
“Very young for his class. An exceptional receiver
and safety. More of a free safety in college.”
6-Ryan Bakie, Athlete, Cranford, (6-3, 195):
“I don’t know if he’s a receiver or safety or will
grow into being a linebacker some day.”
When Bakie was slotted in to whatever position he
played on Cranford’s spread offense, he excelled
and people took notice last year.
7-Xavier Young, DL, Roselle, (6-3, 255):
“Strong and quick.”
8-Matt Grange, OG, Summit, (6-4, 255):
“Does a lot of running, a pulling guard. He gets
down the field well. Also a top student.”
9-Wakeem Brooks, DL, Elizabeth, (6-3, 275):
“Very strong. Plays very hard. Great ability
to get to the quarterback.”
10-Gerald Hairston III, Athlete, Roselle, (6-2, 230):
“A very good athlete and very bright. A big kid.”
Hairston almost led Roselle to its first state championship
game since 1990 two years ago. The lefty-throwing QB
will be leading Roselle’s offense for a third straight season.
McCarthy likes what he sees all around New Jersey.
“The depth of talent in the state, I believe, is at an all-time high,” McCarthy said. “The coaching is off the charts, especially the dedication.
“With the upgrading of a lot of the facilities, with the fields, the tracks and the lights having really improved, I feel it’s just a great time to play the sport.”
As for who McCarthy has ranked as the No. 1 senior in the Garden State for 2016, the distinction goes to Fred Hansard, a 6-4, 290-pound, two-way lineman from the Hun School in Princeton.
“Defensive line will be his college position,” McCarthy said.
Hansard has not given a school a verbal commitment yet, but reports indicate these following universities – Rutgers, Penn State, Oklahoma, Pitt, Michigan State, USC, Tennessee, Alabama and Florida – have the best chance of receiving one from him – perhaps – before the season begins.
“Hun vs. Peddie (at Peddie Oct. 29 at 2 p.m.) will be the game of the year or the prep game of the year,” McCarthy said. “There will be so many Division 1 kids involved.”