Jaelen Vazquez can breath easy about his future after a period of uncertainty.
The Cardinal Hayes offensive lineman signed his National Letter of Intent to play football at Stony Brook next season during a ceremony at the school last Wednesday. Vazquez verbally committed to Old Dominion last summer, but the Monarchs were overcommitted at the position and Vazquez was left without a school.
“Before Stony Brook offered I had that thought in my head, I might not be able to go to college,” Vazquez said.
Those fears were quickly extinguished. The Seawolves, who plays in the CAA conference, came into the picture a few weeks ago and the 6-foot-3, 265-pound Vazquez quickly committed. He chose Stony Brook over Rhode Island. Vazquez felt the Suffolk County school was a better fit both on the field and in the classroom.
“It’s a relief that it is over,” Vazquez said. “It was stressful day in and day out, but it’s over with. “I’m happy. I’m satisfied and it’s just amazing to finally say I can go to college.”
The staff told him that if he can improve physically he could get a chance to start as a freshman. Hayes coach C.J. O’Neil believes Vazquez’s agility and quick feet that goes along with his size is what making him special and his best football is yet to come.
“He’s a very athletic kid,” O’Neil said. “I don’t think we have scratched the surface of his ability as his develops. His ability to work in space as an offensive lineman is very good.”
Vazquez, a three-year starter, leaves the Hayes program better than he found it. He played both sides of the ball and helped the Cardinals win a CHSFL Class AA title as a junior. He helped elevate the program to the AAA division this season and beyond. Ending his career with a Division I college scholarship was as special as all that he accomplished during it.
“It was overwhelming in a good way,” Vazquez said. “I’m satisfied with my decision, very happy with my decision.”
He isn’t the only Bronx star heading to Stony Brook. Mount St. Michael defensive end Odean Gilzene also signed with the Seawolves. The two are part of a Stony Brook recruiting class that includes six players from the area including Gavin Heslop and Damarcus Miller of Stepinac and Iona Prep Synceir Malone and former Gaels star Chris Cooper.
“I know a few of them personally,” Gilzene said. “Before I got [offered] in my head I was like, ‘They are really going to have a good recruiting class and I want to be a part of that.”
The Seawolves began showing interest him last summer and offered the 6-foot-2, 245-pound Gilzene a scholarship two weeks ago after he visited. He fell in love with the campus, felt he was already accepted into the team’s family atmosphere and liked the level of academics at the school. He picked Stony Brook over LIU-Post and Pace.
“I felt like the coaches loved me already and I loved being in the presence of the coaches,” Gizene said. I felt like they would take me to the next level. That’s why I committed.”
He was one of the Mountaineers leader on defense. Gilzene made 38 tackles last season, including 20 of the solo variety, and added two sacks. He also caught a touchdown pass and converted two two-point conversions. Gilzene showed enough in his career to make his dream come true.
“I had goals to go to a Division I school and play football,” Gilzene said. “That’s what I got.”