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Strongman DeVito Keeps the Faith

Posted Aug 7, 2012

One might not assume that certain extreme sports could be preferred hobbies for an NFL player.

But Jets defensive end Mike DeVito is unique.

Besides football and weightlifting through high school, the 6'3", 305-pounder said, "I skateboarded up until my senior year."

Still, football was always first and foremost for DeVito, who was introduced to the sport by his grandfather, a coach at the high school level for 30 years.

He played tight end and defensive end at Nauset Regional High School in Massachusetts, and also was a member of the school’s track and field team.

After completing high school, DeVito went on to the University of Maine, where he was named a team captain his senior year and finished his collegiate career with 112 tackles to go along with 16 sacks.

Despite producing so much success at the college level, DeVito endured a setback when he was not selected in the 2007 NFL Draft.

But with plenty of perseverance and strong faith, he won a roster spot with the Jets in May 2007 and has been a key contributor ever sense.

“If there’s one way to describe Mike DeVito,” teammate Sione Po‘uha said, “it’d be hard work. And his hard work prevails over anything. Hard work never gets tired. Hard work never gives up. Hard work never gets fatigued or anything like that, so when I look at Mike DeVito I see all those characteristics.”

DeVito progressed and saw increased playing time each of his first three seasons with the Green & White. Yet it wasn’t until 2010 that he became a full-time starter.

Now entering his sixth NFL season, DeVito spent the offseason improving his speed and flexibility as he hopes to be more explosive in 2012.

“I just want to keep moving on that upward trend,” he said. “I don’t want to take any steps back. I want to continue to be a better player.”

Training camp in Cortland has been different this year than those in the past for DeVito. The primary difference is he’s being instructed by a new defensive line coach. Karl Dunbar was hired back in February to replace former D-line coach Mark Carrier after spending the previous six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.

“I’m so grateful to have him as a coach,” DeVito said. “It’s just making such a difference in my game.”

DeVito said he is pleased with his play against the run but still looks to improve his pass-rushing skills, which would establish him as a two-dimensional player.

“Mike looks more athletic now than I’ve seen him in the past,” head coach Rex Ryan said at his news conference Monday. “I credit Karl Dunbar for that and a lot of those things. Karl is clearly one of the top defensive line coaches in the league and he’s done a great job with them. Mike has really taken to his coaching and so he’s been impressive.”

Nobody knows when DeVito’s football playing career will end, but whenever it does he already has an idea of what he would like to do next.

“I love theology and doctrine,” DeVito said. “I want to be a pastor when I get done, so I love studying.”

The 28-year-old started to take religion seriously in 2005, his junior year at Maine. He said he’s already been involved in campus ministry at North Carolina and Columbia University.

“He’s an eating, living, preaching, breathing Christian individual who likes to share the word and definitely sees the fruits of Christianity and the principles in Christianity,” Po‘uha said. “If you found out that Best Buy was giving iPads out for 15 dollars, then you would want to share it with everybody, and that’s the way Mike DeVito feels and how passionate he is about it. He just wants to share it and let everybody know.”

DeVito is Po‘uha’s closest friend on the team. "Big Bo," asked if their relationship was one in which they pushed each other, replied: “You know what? We don’t push each other. We don’t let each other down.”

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