Morgan State had problems moving the football in its first two games, and the Bears have totally revamped their offensive line in preparation for tomorrow's 1:30 p.m. game against Bowie State at Hughes Stadium. Players have changed positions, but it remains a huge unit, the five-man front averaging 278 pounds.
All being music to the ears of Tony DiMauro, a senior defensive tackle for Bowie State.
"Morgan State's got a bunch of big, fat, lumpy guys on the line," DiMauro said in a bit of pre-game taunting. "I'd rather go up against players like that. Tell them that. I don't care if you put my number in there, either," said No. 75.
A 6-foot-1, 255-pounder, DiMauro is not averse to calling attention to himself. For his last year at South River High, he got a mohawk haircut. That was when he began wearing an earring. Before a big game last October, he shaved his head. Teammate Anthony Pianoforte awoke from a nap last week to find himself covered in shaving cream, courtesy of DiMauro.
"I'm just trying to get people fired up to play football," DiMauro said. "We've got captains, but no one talks as much as I do in the locker room."
DiMauro backed up the talk last year, when Bowie State won its first Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association title and his regular-season numbers read 42 solo tackles and 28 assists -- including a school-record 14 1/2 sacks, three fumble recoveries, three blocked passes and a blocked punt.
In last week's 21-6 loss at Hampton, DiMauro had a sack, six assists and a fumble recovery.
"He's my pick for All-American," Bowie State coach Sanders Shiver said. "If I'm a recruiting coordinator at a scholarship football program, a 6-foot-1 lineman isn't going to get noticed. But then you see film of Tony, and you ask, 'Who is this guy?' He's been a godsend."
DiMauro's biggest deficiency coming out of high school was his academic background, which was heavy on vocational courses and light on college prep, and he didn't play his first year out of South River. He was a two-way standout at Anne Arundel Community College in 1987 and '88, with a brief stop at Shepherd College mixed in.
DiMauro definitely had the right football breeding. Joe Papetti retired from teaching and coaching last year, but his South River legacy of turning out top-notch linemen lives. The early 1980s saw Allen Argent star at Towson State, Tim Brooks go to North Carolina, Mike McIlhenney to Northeastern and Tony Downs to Weber State.
DiMauro was a first-team All-Metro defensive lineman in 1985, and a year later South River's stud was Mitch Suplee, who centers for Maryland.
"Any high school can put out big linemen," DiMauro said. "Big Joe [Papetti] put out big, aggressive linemen. He never had to say anything to me. He did hit me with a clipboard a few times, though."
Besides his defensive duties at Anne Arundel, which has since dropped football, DiMauro played tight end one year, fullback the next. As a heavyweight wrestler in high school, he was a county champion and state finalist. The aggression carries over to the weight room, where he has bench-pressed 450 pounds and last spring benched 225 pounds 35 times for the pro scouts.
A sociology major with an emphasis in criminology, DiMauro plans to clamp down on Morgan State tomorrow, and keep talking. "All game, I like to talk trash," he said.