Mike Rosario is no longer a Scarlet Knight. The former great next hope for Rutgers is officially a Florida Gator. He committed to the school Sunday afternoon after visiting Gainesville over the weekend.
"It's a great coach, a great group of guys and it's just a great place to hang your rafters up after it's over because the experience is just unbelievable," Rosario said when reached by phone. "The guys that have been here, so many pros, every sport is so good. It's unbelievable. It's really a college town and I really loved it."
Rosario was granted his release from Rutgers Wednesday and visited only Florida before making his decision. There was wide speculation that he would end up at USC with his good friend and former St. Anthony High School teammate Jio Fontan but Rosario said his goal was to find the school best for him."I told Jio that I was going to make my decision and I was gonna do what's best for me," he said. "Out of love I chose Florida but I told him I love him and I wish him the best. He knows that we're brothers so he knows that we're never, ever stop keeping in contact. I still know we're going to be close. He said, no matter what I'm going to be by your side. He's my brother so I made my decision to come here instead of there and he backed me up 110 percent."
His declaration ends a tumultuous two-year era at Rutgers. He became the first McDonald's All-American to commit to the school and quickly becoming the face of the program before he even stepped onto the RAC hardwood. He leaves with two losing seasons behind him, the coach that recruited him with nine toes out the door and a program in flux like no other BCS school.
Still, he has nothing but fond memories of his time as a Knight.
"I love Rutgers because it was home and it was 20 minutes away from home and I was the face of the program," Rosario said. "I really loved it. I really had a joyful time here and even to have the opportunity to attend college. I still would thank them for everything that they've done for me. Just everybody that has helped me to get better as a person and as a player, I want to thank them for doing that for me."
Rosario will finish out the spring semester at Rutgers before making the move down to Florida, ending an almost two-week process that started when the Star-Ledger reported Rosario was not happy with his situation at the school. He said about his decision, "The monkey is off my back."
Rosario will join other formerly highly-recruited Rutgers players like Dahntay Jones and Todd Billet who also transferred out after two season. While Rosario admits that sitting out the 2010-11 season as mandated by the NCAA will be difficult, it becomes easier thanks to his new surroundings.
"It's going to be tough sitting out a year but I have some experienced guys around me," he said. "I have guys that are going to help me stay focused on the task at hand. It's going to be unbelievable for me because it's a big test, but it's a great test for me. I think that this is the best decision that I have made in the last five years."