Ivan Mertilus is back in his hometown of Revere after impressing NFL scouts during his appearance in the 2021 Hula Bowl college football all-star game in Hawaii.
Mertilus made four tackles for Team ‘Ania (Land) who lost to Team Kai (Ocean), 15-13, in what will likely be the last game played at Aloha Stadium, home to the University of Hawaii football team.
“Hawaii was good, it was a blessed experience,” said Mertilus, a 6-foot, 200-pound defensive back, who is hoping to be selected in the 2021 NFL Draft. “I’ll always remember playing in the Hula Bowl.”
Mertilus, 23-year-old son of Beatrice Mertilus of Revere, said one of the highlights was playing on the team coached by Mike Singletary, the former Hall of Fame linebacker for the Chicago Bears (who defeated the Patriots, 46-10, in Super Bowl XX).
“We practiced with Coach Singletary each day and after the first day I pulled him over so I could get a one-on-one with him so I could learn more about the defense and how he does things and how I can improve,” said Mertilus.
The Hula Bowl was televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network. Mertilus, who played safety in the game, showed excellent pursuit in getting to the ballcarrier quickly.
“I was playing behind a lot of great players – my linebackers and my defensive linemen,” said Mertilus.
Mertilus roomed with his team at the Waikiki Hotel under strict guidelines due to the coronavirus. “We had a team bus from the hotel to the stadium and really didn’t get to do too much sightseeing. The coaches had their own travel van. At all times we had to wear special masks that had the Hula Bowl logo on them.”
Mertilus received his Hula Bowl uniform as a souvenir. “After the game Mike Singletary signed the back of my jersey so I’m definitely going to put it somewhere special in the house,” related Mertilus. “We also received Hula Bowl practice shorts and jerseys, backpacks, and we’re going to get rings.”
Mertilus will now prepare for what is known as an “NFL Pro Day” workout. The traditional NFL combine for draft prospects in Indianapolis has been canceled due to the coronavirus.
“I’ll be doing my training in Los Angeles,” said Mertilus, who attended LA Valley Community College and Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
Describing himself as “a man of faith,” Mertilus said he will assist at a homeless shelter during his training period in LA.
Mertilus grew up in Revere and attended the Our Lady of Grace School, Chelsea, through fourth grade. He attended Immaculate Conception, Revere, for fifth grade and then graduated from Garfield Middle School. He was a student at Revere High School for two years before transferring to St. Clement School, Medford.
After playing in the Tropical Bowl and Hula Bowl all-star games, Ivan Mertilus now wants to begin a career in professional football.