Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007

Area prep stars look to keep playing

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National Signing Day is setting up college football plans for a slew of Frederick County players.

Tuscarora’s Ian Quirk had the biggest splash with a verbal commitment to play at Division I-AA Ivy League Columbia University, while Urbana’s Ryan Smith, the Gazette’s 2006 Player of the Year is looking to play at Bucknell of the Patriot League.

Urbana head coach Joe Polce confirmed that Smith was planning to play for the Bison.

‘‘I think he’s going to be good,” Polce said. ‘‘A lot of schools looked at him and passed him over, but it was mostly because of his size.”

Also for Urbana, Matt Ray will be a preferred walk-on at Towson University.

Middletown’s Andrew Crown has been showing up in scouting reports, ranking as the No. 96 defensive tackle by ESPN.com. He’s currently being recruited by Shepherd.

Quirk, an All-Gazette second team selection this past season, got in his first official visit to Columbia last weekend. He noted that the campus was nice and being in Manhattan was a big selling point for the Ivy League school.

‘‘The coaches said they play the best player, so if I work my hardest, it should be good,” Quirk said.

Tuscarora head coach Shawn Carey noted that Quirk’s teammate, Cruz Mannherz, has gotten interest from Wagner University of New York.

‘‘Those are our big two,” Carey said. ‘‘There’s more looking at playing for Division III schools. We could end up with about eight playing in college.”

Linganore’s Shannon Breen ended up turning down an offer from Wagner, choosing instead to play at West Virginia-Wesleyan.

‘‘I just thought about it and I wanted to play more,” Breen said.