FLORHAM PARK–The past few months have been a whirlwind for Mike DeVito. He was named a starter even before Kris Jenkins was injured and, just before training camp, he married his college sweetheart, Jesse Martin. But in keeping with his very even-keeled personality, he just puts one foot in front of the other.
DeVito has been a steady presence, stepping in whenever and wherever he has been needed since the Jets signed him as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Maine in 2006. This year he and fellow lineman, Sione Pouha, have received endless praise from Rex Ryan.
“The fact that we’ve overcome Kris Jenkins’ injury speaks volumes about Mike DeVito and Sione Pouha,” Ryan said recently.
DeVito ended up at Maine after a standout high school career at Nauset Regional High School in the town of North Eastham (population 1915) located on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The school had only had a football program for four years prior to Devito getting there. In spite of all of that, he caught the eye of a number of colleges that all tried to recruit him. However, he knew immediately that he wanted to play for the Black Bears.
“I didn’t even have to visit the school,” he said. “I knew from the second I saw Maine play, watchig the guys and the kind of team they had. I knew I wanted to play there.”
With dreams of playing in the NFL, was he at all worried that coming out of a school like Maine, not quite as much on the radar as the bigger Division I-A schools, would impact his finding his way to a career in the NFL?
“Well, they had put out NFL players,” DeVito said. “Actually, Maine has had the most NFL players of any NCAA Division I-AA school. One year we had 11 (Maine alums) on active NFL rosters.” In fact, the Jets currently have two, DeVito and tight end Matt Mulligan who was two years behind DeVito.
DeVito comes by his passion for football honestly. His grandfather was the coach at Suffern High School in New York’s Rockland County for 30 years and got DeVito and his younger brother involved early. Practically from the minute he was first exposed to the game, Devito knew he wanted to play.
Initially, although the NFL was a dream, he first thought about attending West Point. Then when scouts started calling he started thinking, “maybe I can do this.”
And now that he’s actually achieved that part of his dream? “It’s unbelievable,” he said.
However, DeVito’s life plans go well beyond the NFL. Although he doesn’t talk about it a lot, he is deeply religious and is preparing to become a pastor after he retires from his playing career.
“The more I got into it the more I decided it was something I wanted to do,” he said. “Maybe not a head pastor but a youth pastor or something like that. Football is a great platform because you can reach so many people.”
Of his personal life, DeVito looks at his marriage in a similar way as he looks at his career, he’s part of a team. “It’s awesome to come home to somebody who’s my teammate,” he said. In fact, they got married in a small ceremony this summer rather than waiting for the larger, more elaborate event, which will take place next summer, because, “I couldn’t go another season without her.”
However, he’s not yet the captain of his new team. “I went to the guest bathroom,” he said laughing. “And my other things are in the guest bedroom.”
And there are still some remnants of single behavior.
“I’m still in bachelor mode,” he said and laughed again as he recalled a recent incident. “She went away for the weekend and when she came back she said, ‘What did you do? It looks like an elephant went through this place.’ I also don’t do the laundry. I have no idea what’s going on with that.”
Fortunately, he knows exactly what’s going on when it comes to the Jets defense.