Even though Mike DeVito was recruited by several schools, University of Maine head football coach Jack Cosgrove was the only one to offer him some scholarship money — initially $1,000.
The fact Cosgrove and assistant Jeff Cole visited him at Nauset Regional High School in Eastham, Massachusetts, also left a favorable impression.
“To have them come down to my high school was pretty impressive. Then I went on my recruiting trip,” recalled DeVito. “[UMaine] is where I wanted to be.”
DeVito, a defensive lineman, went on to have a terrific career at UMaine and that led to nine productive seasons in the National Football League with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs.
On Sept. 8, the two-time all-conference selection for the Black Bears will be inducted into the UMaine Sports Hall of Fame.
“This is the biggest honor I’ve ever received,” said the 33-year-old DeVito. “What makes it even more special for me is the school gave me so much. It provided me with a free education, an opportunity to play in the NFL and I met my wife (Bangor native Jessie Martin) there.
“I am so grateful. I am humbled by it,” added DeVito.
He redshirted his first year, but will always remember his first snap for UMaine against Montana at Alfond Stadium.
“The whole year before, I had watched from the sidelines. Then I got the call to go into the game with the field goal unit. I remember saying to myself ‘Wow, here it goes.’ It was surreal,” said DeVito.
The talented nose guard finished his UMaine career with 112 tackles and 16 sacks. He was a first-team All-Atlantic 10 selection his senior year in 2006, when he was a captain, after being a second-team pick his junior year.
DeVito credits his coaches and teammates for his success.
“Coach Cosgrove and his staff were not only good at landing players, they always got the most out of the players. They maximized our talent,” said DeVito. “We had top-notch coaches like Jeff Comissiong and Jeff Cole who invested time in me and taught me how to be a man and how play the game. There are a lot of guys who just teach X’s and O’s. But they taught you how to be a better person.
“You wanted to work hard for them,” added DeVito.
DeVito said he was surrounded on defense by quality players such as the late Javon Belcher, Matt King, Jermaine Walker, Darren Stone and Bruno Dorismond.
“There were a lot of guys around me that had to be accounted for. They couldn’t double-team all of us,” said the New York native.
He was an undrafted free agent but cracked the New York Jets roster thanks to the lessons he learned at UMaine.
“The culture at UMaine … the toughness, the hard work, the lunchpail mentality. That allowed me to make their opening day roster,” said DeVito.
He played in 110 NFL games and finished with 250 tackles, 5.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
But injuries took their toll. He suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon in the first game of 2014 and missed the rest of the season. He had a career-high three sacks with Kansas City in 2015 but concussions played a major role in his decision to retire after the season.
He also wanted to be able to enjoy his family, wife Jessie and sons Rocco, who is 4, and Sal, who is 10 months old. The DeVitos live in Hampden.
“It was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t miss the game,” he said.
“I am so grateful for my NFL career. I had a lot of fun and the thing I miss most is the friendships,” said DeVito, the oldest of two sons raised by Vinny and Arlynn DeVito. “I played for two incredible organizations.”
DeVito’s football career was laid out at an early age. His father was a bodybuilder and his grandfather, Ralph Consiglio, was a Rockland County Hall of Fame football coach at Suffern High School in New York.
“I had the best of both worlds,” said DeVito, who has a younger brother John.
DeVito, who has a degree in business management and is working toward a master’s degree in religious studies, is the color analyst on UMaine football telecasts and is also a guest host on The Drive on 92.9 FM The Ticket. He enjoys being involved in the media and covering the team.
“I like keeping my foot in the game,” he said.