I was born in Freehold NJ and attended Freehold Boro HS. I was raised in a single parent home, and my grandfather played the father figure in my life. After losing every game my junior year in HS, I was fortunate enough to help our team win our division championship in my senior year. I was named team captain and even though I broke my hand in the first game and missing 3 games, I was awarded All-State First-Team honors at middle linebacker.
After HS I went on to play college football at the University of Minnesota, where I was a four-year starter. I arrived at Minnesota as a linebacker but after redshirting I was switched to defensive tackle in 2001. That year I was the smallest Defensive tackle in the Big Ten weighing only 235 pounds. Yet, I was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team, leading the team in sacks and tackles in my junior year and senior. Academically, I also acquired a degree in Communications and Rhetoric with a minor in Leadership.