The University of Maryland football team got an early commitment from one of the area's top high school running backs when Wilde Lake's Raphael Wall announced yesterday that he would attend the school.
Wilde Lake defensive back Ricky Rowe announced yesterday that he will attend Penn State.
The signing period for high school seniors who plan to play football at Division I schools will begin Feb. 6 and end April 1.
Wall was the area's fourth-leading rusher during the regular season, with 1,538 yards and 25 touchdowns on 149 carries. He scored the winning touchdown in overtime in Wilde Lake's 13-7 victory over Damascus in the state Class 2A championship game Dec. 1 with Maryland coach Joe Krivak in attendance.
Rowe, 6 feet, 180 pounds, led a Wilde Lake defense that shut out five opponents and gave up just 31 points in 10 regular-season games. He had five interceptions. Wall and Rowe were All-Metro first-team selections by The Sun.
Wall, 6-0, 200 pounds, visited Maryland last weekend. He also vis
ited Tennessee, Notre Dame and Rutgers. He canceled visits to Clemson and North Carolina State.
Wall said a big reason he chose Maryland was that the coaches have promised he will not be redshirted.
"No school can tell you you will start, but they said I won't be redshirted and they expect me to line up against Virginia in the first game [Sept. 7]," said Wall, who has been clocked at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard --. "I like what the coaches are doing and like what they are doing with the facilities [renovations]. I think things are on the up-rise. They have a chance to win the ACC."
Under National Collegiate Athletic Association rules, college coaches cannot comment about recruits until they have signed, but one person close to the Maryland football program said of Wall: "He could be the top signee of the incoming class. He could be the best running-back prospect Maryland has signed since Andre Vaughn."
Vaughn, an Oakland Mills graduate who will be a junior this fall, is one of several holdover backs for the Terps. Also included are senior Troy Jackson, who started most of the season; sophomore Mark Mason, whose outstanding games in an upset of Virginia and in the Poulan-Weed Eater Independence Bowl against Louisiana Tech caused speculation that he may start this fall; and junior fullback Darren Colvin from Aberdeen High.
There also has been speculation that Krivak will return to a two-back offense after using a one-back set last season, and the signing of Wall enhances that possibility.
Maryland also remains one of the top choices for Randallstown's Larry Washington, considered by many the area's top back. Washington, The Sun's Player of the Year after leading the Rams (13-0) to the state Class 4A title, says he will announce his choice at a news conference at the school Wednesday at 1 p.m. He will visit Maryland this weekend. He has visited Clemson, Georgia Tech, Tennessee and Michigan.