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Vinnie Mauro off to the Naval Academy

For the past three years, he has played at a high level and has been recognized as one of the top linebackers in the state of Florida. On Monday, Vinnie Mauro made a life decision. One that will pave the way on and off the playing field for years to come.

"I am going to the U.S. Naval Academy," the 6-2, 215-pounder said after choosing the Midshipmen over the University of Wisconsin. "It was all about looking out for my future beyond football as well."

As someone who had been leaning toward the Naval Academy since the recruiting process began, Mauro heads off to a program that has established itself as one of the top football teams in the nation, owning wins over Notre Dame and Missouri and taking Rose Bowl champion Ohio State down to the wire.

At St. Thomas Aquinas, Mauro helped the Raiders win two state titles and one national crown. It was his play this year against Byrnes, S.C. on national television that gave the country a glimpse of how impressive he was on the football field.

"If you watched that Byrnes game or any other big game St. Thomas played in, Vinnie was the one making all the huge plays," said Charles Fishbein of Elite Scouting Services. "He is a quick, strong playmaker who will be a major force at any school he chose."

In addition to being a standout on the football field, Mauro is also an exceptional baseball players, hitting over .300 and coming up with nine homeruns last spring for the Raiders. He is expected to compete for Navy's baseball team as well.

"This is a great opportunity for me," Mauro said. "This is really as chance of a lifetime to be a part of the Naval Academy, receiving an outstanding education and compete in two sports. There is really nothing else I could ask for."

The decision to choose Navy over Wisconsin was tough. He had watched the Badgers play against the University of Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando and was impressed.

"Wisconsin has a great team and the coaches are first class all the way," he said. "It was a tough decision to make."

Mauro's teammates Brian Robinson and Matt Stokes also committed on Monday as well.

Robinson (6-0, 180), a talented defensive back, will join the improving Marshall Thundering Herd, and Stokes, a 6-3, 245-pound defensive lineman, will head off to play at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.

Catch up on all our stories, rankings, commitments and all other archived information by clicking on Miami Herald Recruiting Information: