After an outstanding career as a defensive back for the Los Angeles Valley Community College football team, Revere’s Ivan Mertilus now has his sights on playing in the National Football League.
Mertilus, a 6-foot-1-inch, 205-pound cornerback who runs a 4.4 in the 40, hopes to take a huge step in that direction as he has been invited to play in the Spiral Tropical Bowl this weekend in Orlando, Fla. The game showcases the top college players to NFL scouts and general managers who attend the event.
The son of Beatrice Mertilus and grandson of Annette Cadet of Revere, Ivan began his football career in the Revere Junior Patriots Pop Warner organization where he played his eighth and ninth grade seasons for ‘A’ Division playoff teams coached by Eddie Sullivan and quarterbacked by his son, Eddie Sulllivan.
Mertilus played a sophomore season of varsity football at Revere High as a member of the special teams. He later played for the U.S. National Football team in Baltimore.
Mertilus then transferred to St. Clement High School where, as a starting running back and safety, helped lead the Anchormen to a Super Bowl title. In his junior year as a team captain, Mertilus rushed for 1,500 yards. He was also a guard on St. Clement’s state championship basketball team.
After graduating high school, Mertilus matriculated at Assumption College (Worcester) where he had a redshirt season in the football program. Following his freshman year, Mertilus chose to continue his football career at Los Angeles Valley Community College.
“I played safety, corner, and nickel back and on special teams [in the 2017 and 2018 seasons] at LA Valley,” said Mertilus. “We had some really good teams. It was a good learning experience and gave me some recruiting exposure for my goal of earning a Division 1 college scholarship.”
Gaining notice for his speed and his terrific coverage of wide receivers, Mertilus received correspondences from the University of Oregon Ducks football program but “I learned I was two credits shy of moving on to a Division 1 program.”
He then enrolled at Lincoln University in Philadelphia in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic altered his plans and he opted not to play his senior year of college football in 2020.
“After consulting with my advisers, I decided to chase my dreams and focus on the NFL Draft,” related Mertilus, who is 23 years old. “I’m hoping to get drafted but if not, I want to be signed as a free agent and get a tryout with an NFL team.”
Mertilus feels the Tropical Bowl will be a great showcase for his talents. He has been working hard in strength and conditioning sessions and doing a lot of running.
“I’ve been running Revere Beach and going to the gym and doing explosive workouts,” said Merilus.
He knows the odds are against him, but he is determined to play professional football.
“It’s been a hard process,” said Mertilus. “I know it’s going to get tougher but I’m looking forward to the obstacle because I’ve been waiting for this my whole life. I’ve been working for this moment for a long time. But I feel I can play football at the highest level which is the NFL.”
(Information from the Spiral Tropical Bowl website was used in the compilation of this story).