Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

County buzzing for annual ‘signing day’

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This story was corrected on Feb. 11, 2008, from its print version.

Less than a week after Super Bowl XLII, roughly four dozen current high school seniors with aspirations of one day playing professionally took the next step toward that long-term goal as they signed national letters-of-intent Wednesday.

Heading the list of college football signings is a large contingent from Friendly High, which was prevented from defending its Class 3A state title late last fall when it was stripped of six victories for using an ineligible player. But the Patriots’ inability to participate in the postseason had little impact on their recruiting stock.

‘‘To have 11 guys at a public school sign, that’s big time,” said longtime Friendly assistant coach Marcus Berry, who said he does not plan to return to the Fort Washington school this fall. ‘‘We had special things about some special kids that worked their tails off for it. What they did is really, really special.”

Wednesday morning, Friendly players Josh Haden (Boston College), Martin Kamara (Howard), Vincent Hill (Minnesota), Lamaar Thomas (Ohio State), Devin Wallace (Virginia), Eteyen Edet (Maryland), Quentin Sales (Massachusetts), Terrell Hawkins (Howard), James Stanfield (Duquesne), Carlos Davis (Old Dominion) and Steve Murray (Northeastern) all signed letters to play football this fall.

Hill, one of the top offensive players in the state in 2006, attended New Berlin (N.Y.) Milford Academy in 2007 after initially planning to play at the University of Akron. After catching a state-record 22 touchdown passes at Friendly in 2006, Hill caught 22 passes for 332 yards and two touchdowns last fall for Milford, a prep powerhouse that has produced numerous college and pro players.

DeMatha captured its fifth consecutive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference football title in November and has 10 players who have made their college choices. Running back Ashby Christian (Navy), wide receiver Kenny Tate (Maryland), Jonathan Mason (Harvard), Rob McDowell (Delaware), Rodney McLeod (Virginia), Ryan Clarke (West Virginia), Stanley Henry (Morgan State), James Peters (Johns Hopkins), Rion Roberts (Albright) and D.J. Sellman (Liberty) all signed Wednesday. Christian, Tate and Sellman were selected to the Gazette-Star All-County first team last fall.

DeMatha tight end Joe Collura is deciding between Army and Air Force. Richard Ndubueze, Tyler Carter and Gazette-Star Defensive Player of the Year Anthony Listorti are still finalizing their plans.

Charles H. Flowers High, which went 8-2 on the gridiron last fall only to be removed from playoff contention after four forfeits for using an ineligible player, had six football players sign on Wednesday. The list includes Michael Kay (Syracuse), Jarren Brown (Navy), David Izebere (Delaware State), Jervon Wright (Delaware State), D’Anthony Jones (Old Dominion) and Rashard Cleaveland (Lincoln). Brown, one of the county’s top running backs, and Kay, an offensive lineman, both were selected to the Gazette-Star all-county first team last fall.

Perennial football power Eleanor Roosevelt was at the forefront of the ineligible player violations that plagued the county last fall, and with coach Rick Houchens suspended and eventually leaving to accept the coaching job with Archbishop Carroll (D.C.), the Raiders have only two players signed. Defensive back Okachukwu Okaroha (Boston College) and defensive lineman Delonte Wallace (Buffalo), both Gazette-Star first-team selections, signed Wednesday. Interim coach Dan McMunn has been handling recruiting tasks involving Roosevelt players, though he said he does not plan to return to the Greenbelt school this coming fall.

Wallace had an offer from Buffalo last year and was hoping to get offers from bigger schools this year, but said the midseason changes probably slowed the exposure of his teammates.

‘‘We had some really quality players on our team and our numbers on defense really showed it,” Wallace said. ‘‘But with all the talent we had, we didn’t have a coach to put out those names. Everybody thought they were stopping us from winning a championship. They were really stopping us from getting into schools.”

In addition to DeMatha’s Tate and Friendly’s Edet, the University of Maryland secured four other county products this week. Wide receiver Kevin Dorsey and tight end Devonte Campbell of Forestville, running back Davin Meggett of Surrattsville and defensive back Cameron Chism of Bishop McNamara all signed with the Terps.

Staff writers Terron Hampton and Kevin Hilgers contributed to this report.

E-mail Ted Black at tblack@gazette.net.