MERIDEN — The college signings keep coming for Maloney football as three more seniors made their college football commitments official this week.
The latest commitments are running back James Tarver to Division I Morgan State University, defensive lineman Tristhan Garib to Division II Southern Connecticut State University and kicker Jaden Myles to Division III Endicott College.
Tarver will be a preferred walk-on at the Baltimore, Maryland school after enjoying a record-breaking career at Maloney in his two years as starter.
As a junior in 2019, Tarver set Maloney’s single-season rushing mark with 1,955 yards, breaking Edwin Roman’s mark of 1,868 that had stood for 21 years.
Also in 2019, Tarver had five touchdowns and 287 yards on Thanksgiving and was named the MVP of the Stoddard Bowl. His single-game high was 320 yards in a pivotal Nov. 8 win over Wethersfield.
At the end of the 2019 season, Tarver was named All-State Class L, Walter Camp All-Connecticut Second Team, All-Conference and All-Record-Journal.
“He’s been a prolific running back for us,” Maloney coach Kevin Frederick said. “He would have broken more records if we had a full season this year, but he handled himself great throughout the process.”
Frederick added that the senior worked hard to improve in the classroom and weight room. At Morgan State, Tarver will be coached by former University of Michigan and New York Giants running back Tyrone Wheatley.
“He’s taking this as a challenge,” Frederick said. “He wants to earn that full scholarship. He’s determined, and if he’s determined good things will happen. I feel he’s the best running back in Connecticut. He also made it cool with his teammates to have good grades.”
Tarver has power, speed and vision on the field. He became the team’s starting running back as a sophomore in 2018 and produced 1,100 yards as the Spartans reached the Class L state final.
“He also has a lunch-pail mentality,” Frederick said. “He’s a hard worker and his vision is exceptional. He gets downhill on guys. He will go down as one of the best running backs to come out of Maloney. He left his mark. He’s one of the all-time greats to put green and white on.”
“It was a dream of mine to play Division I football since I was a kid,” Tarver said.
Tarver’s three older brothers — Henry and A.J. Jackson and Deja Durant — all played at Platt.
Tarver started playing at age 11. He now goes 5-foot-9, 187 pounds.
“Coach Wheatley welcomed me and I'm ready to get the show on the road,” Tarver said. “I’m happy they accepted me as a preferred walk-on and will go down and earn a scholarship. No big deal.”
He’s the son of James Tarver and Lorraine Winston.
“It feels good and it was always a dream of mine to play Division I ball,” Tarver said. “The dream is coming true. Now I have to work and become a starter.
“I’m a pretty elusive running back,” he added. “I'm a do-it-all back. I run downhill and make people miss. I will race to the end zone and blow right past you.”
Myles, meanwhile, will be off to Beverly, Mass. to kick for Endicott. Myles started high school as a soccer player for Wilcox Tech as a freshman and sophomore before transferring to Maloney in 2019 and converting to a place-kicker with the football team.
“He drew a lot of interest from NE-10 schools,” Frederick said. “He had great grades and felt at home at Endicott, where he will have an opportunity to kick right away. He’s just scratching the surface of his talent. He has a strong, explosive leg.”
Myles will participate in some kicking camps before heading to college.
“He’s one to watch for,” Frederick said. “He has done it for such little time and he was kicking the ball in the end zone during the independent season. He’s a lefty that can get a lot of pop off the ball.
“He’s also accurate with his field goals and extra points. Other guys will have big shoes to fill.”
With Maloney playing independent football after the 2020 CIAC was cancelled, Myles was able to play both football and soccer his senior year. He scored a team-high four goals for the Spartans and played a variety of positions on the field. He was named to the All-RJ team.
In football, Myles was 54-for-60 on extra points and was 2-for-2 on field goals with a long of 38.
“To be able to play at the next level means a lot; it shows the hard work I put in,” Myles said. “The reason I chose Endicott is because I wanted a smaller campus and the coaches are amazing. They have a culture that I like and it just felt right.”
Myles, 17, has an older brother, Ephriam, who also played at Maloney. Their father, Ephriam Sr., was a coach for the Meriden Raiders. He passed away in December.
At this week’s signing ceremony, Myles had an empty chair next to him in remembrance of his father. His mother is Maritza was in attendance.
At Endicott, Myles rejoin former Spartan teammate Larue Graham. Myles will study health sciences and, eventually, occupational therapy.
He’s got goals for football, too.
“As a kicker, I would like to be the tone-setter,” Myles said. “I want to pin the other team back to the 20 with a touchback. I want to kick it deep so they have a long way to go. I believe I will be able to contribute right way and help them as a team player.”
As for Garib, he is off to SCSU. His story is remarkable. In eighth grade, he moved to Meriden with parents Carlos Garib and Yuderki Guante from the Dominican Republic. Upon arrival, Garib didn’t speak English.
“My dad wanted a better opportunity for me; that’s why we came to Meriden,” Garib said. “I’m excited to go to Southern. They gave me a great offer. This means a lot coming from the Dominican Republic.”
Garib didn’t play football his first year at Maloney, but went to the weight room the winter of his freshman year with some friends who were on the team and decided to join.
A defensive lineman, Garib
played JV as a sophomore and a junior, then moved up to varsity as a senior.
“He didn’t know anything about football,” Frederick said. “He’s 6-foot-2, 290 pounds. He’s a 500-pound squatter and is over 1,000 bench-squat-power clean. Only a handful of guys have done that in my seven years. He worked at it and now he’s playing Division II football at Southern.”
Garib, 17, will study technology physics. Academics were an important part of college decision.
“He turned himself into an incredible player and has over a 3.0 GPA,” Frederick said. “You can’t teach size and strength, and he’s just developing his game. The sky’s the limit.”
Frederick said Garib dedicated himself to learn English, to get better as a football player and stronger in the weight room.
“He bought into the program and became a strong, explosive lineman,” Frederick said. “He had a tremendous season for us and I can’t wait to follow him. He will be a huge asset for Southern down the road. He’s a kid we are going to hear about.”
Frederick added that Garib was one player who particularly benefited from the independent season.
“If we didn’t play that independent league he wouldn’t have had any game film,” Frederick said. “We played six games and the SCSU coaches were able to come watch us practice and saw him live in action. He got the looks he needed.
“He only started in those six games. Without those six games, who knows what would have happened. We’re fortunate the Meriden Board of Education got it right and let us use the equipment to be in the independent league. They made the right decision and we got some good film for our players out of it.”
This week’s signings make it five Maloney players from the Class of 2021 going on to play college football. Linemen Damian Vargas (American International College) and Josh Pelletier (Bryant University) signed at a previous ceremony.