I am not the sort of mother to bypass a good story which includes my son and our local Frederick High school students. There are several high school seniors who are face with the decision about their futures and the initial step into adulthood. Some students may not want the option of attending college, community college or any university. Three local Frederick high school student share their story and what lead them to sign on National Sign Day to a military academy.
Walkersville’s Quentin Ezell, Catoctin’s Sean Reaver and Linganore’s Dwayne Randall made important life decisions Wednesday with the big picture in mind.
The three aren’t just heavily recruited football players. They are strong students. And when it came to making a college choice, they were looking for opportunities that extended beyond the field.
“It’s not really about what happens playing football for four or five years,” said Reaver, a formidable defensive end and tight end for the Cougars. “You have to ask yourself: What is going to be best for me in the long run?”
So, on National Signing Day, the first day senior athletes in high school can sign binding letters of intent with colleges, Reaver, Ezell and Randall each formalized their commitments to continue their academic and playing careers at United States service academies.
Reaver and Ezell, the leading rusher in Frederick County last season, will play at Navy, while Randall, a bruising blocker and runner, will play for Army.
They are not the first Frederick County athletes to choose this path. But they do comprise the biggest class of local athletes to commit to the service academies in the same year. And other unsigned athletes are contemplating doing the same.
“I think that speaks highly of the area and the kind of standards we hold our kids to on the field and in the classroom,” Linganore football coach Rick Conner said.
“The academies attract a certain kind of kid. They are hard-nosed, intelligent. They are very good on a lot of fronts other than athletics. They have to be. These are the people who are defending our country.”
And with a shaky job market confronting high school and college graduates, attending a service academy ensures employment after graduation.
“When you are an officer serving your country, you never have to apologize for that,” Walkersville football coach Joe Polce said.
Randall first popped onto the radar of Army’s football team on someone else’s highlight tape.
While watching film on former Linganore star running back Zach Zwinak, the coaches at Army noticed the plucky fullback paving the way, often by taking on much bigger defensive linemen. There wasn’t a player Randall was unwilling to block. He was asked to send his own highlight tape, and he obliged.
Then, last May, over Memorial Day weekend, Randall was presented an offer to play football at Army. It was the first offer Randall received and it arrived with an interesting twist.
“They told me not to rush into the decision,” he said. “They said, ‘Go out, look around, explore your options. Just make sure you save an official visit for us.’”
In the cutthroat world of recruiting, where colleges will do just about anything to secure the services of top athletes, this passive approach caught Randall a bit off-guard.
“They never tried to sell West Point,” he said. “It sort of made me confused and hesitant” about going there.
While Randall hedged on Army, he said he received a “verbal lashing” from his older brother, Gordon, who went to Air Force.
“What are you thinking?” Randall said Gordon told him. “(Army) is the top academic school in the country.”
As he weighed offers from as many as 10 other Division I schools, Randall took Army up on its offer to make a visit. Read More