Raphael Wall has gotten used to the sound of a ringing telephone.
Wall, a senior running back for Wilde Lake who runs a 4.48-second 40-yard --, spends most evenings fielding phone calls from college coaches. On a typical night recently, Clemson, Maryland and Nebraska phoned. Michigan, Rutgers, Virginia and Notre Dame also are frequent callers.
"It's something you get used to after a while, but it can be bothersome," he said. "I know I just have to keep my head straight and do my job, then everything will fall into place."
Wall, 6 feet 1, 200 pounds, became a starter in the fifth game of his freshman year and has been a mainstay for the Wildecats since. He rushed for 500 yards that season, 900 as a sophomore and 1,156 as a junior. This season, he has rushed for 558 yards on 34 carries for No. 3 Wilde Lake (3-0).
"He is a true tailback with a relatively high [3.0] grade-point average, and that's why most colleges are after him," said Doug DuVall, Wilde Lake's head coach. "We set goals for him each year, and he just keeps outdoing them. There isn't much on a football team he can't do."
Wall is not selfish about sharing the credit with the Wilde Lake offensive line, which averages 240 pounds, and with his coach.
"I have a close personal friendship with Coach DuVall," said Wall. "We joke around quite a bit, but I give him a lot of respect. I know he's my ticket [to college football]."
Wall lists his greatest thrill at Wilde Lake as beating Oakland Mills for the Howard County championship last season.
"I was really scared [before the game], but it was exciting to beat them, especially because they had Archie Clark [The Sun's 1989 Defensive Player of the year, now at Maryland]. I hope we're both undefeated when we play them the last game of the season, because we want them again."
He said he has two goals to achieve before he leaves Wilde Lake.
"I guess I'm like most players. I'd like to take my team to the state championship. I'd also like to play in the Big 33 game [between all-stars from Pennsylvania and Maryland]. That would be a great honor," he said.
As for college, Wall won't say which way he's leaning.
"My father wants me to go to Notre Dame, and my mother lives in Michigan, but Rutgers has been after me for two years, and I went to Maryland's camp this summer," he said.
He is sure of one thing, though. He doesn't want to go to college just to play football.
"I want to walk into an employer and have him recognize me as being a football player, but then I want him to ask to see my resume and see what I can really do," he said.