Raphael Wall and Ricky Rowe, the senior cornerstones of the Wilde Lake High School football team that won its second state championship last fall, are headed for the big-time Division I college circuit.
Wall, who led Wilde Lake's offense with 1,538 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns in the regular season and won the state title with a four-yard run in overtime against Damascus, has announced he will attend theUniversity of Maryland on a full football scholarship.
Rowe, the hard-hitting defensive back who symbolized a Wildecats defense that surrendered just 29 points and did not allow a rushing touchdown in the regular season, has given a verbal commitment to PennState in University Park, Pa.
Each player plans to sign a national letter of intent Wednesday, Feb. 6, the first day of the Division Isigning period that ends April 1.
Wall visited Notre Dame, Tennessee and Rutgers universities and canceled visits to Clemson and NorthCarolina State before deciding on Maryland. He cited the chance to make an immediate impact in the Terps program as a key reason he choseMaryland.
"They don't plan to red-shirt me (as a freshman). They expect me to line up in the first game against Virginia," said Wall, who averaged 10.4 yards a carry for Wilde Lake and was a Howard County Sun First Team All-County selection the last two seasons. The Wildecats averaged 36 points a game last fall behind him.
"I like the coaches. I like the renovations they're doing (at Byrd Stadium), and Ithink I can lead them to the ACC title some day," added Wall, a 6-foot, 195-pounder who has been clocked at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard --. "They want me to put on a little more muscle because the contact istremendous at that level."
Wall will become part of an offensive backfield that includes former Oakland Mills running back standout Andre Vaughn, who will be a junior this fall.
Rowe had a similarly tough choice to make. He fielded serious offers from UCLA and Clemson,and visited Virginia Tech, Tennessee, North Carolina State and Maryland before settling on Penn State, a perennial national championship contender.
"I'm nervous. It's so hard with all these coaches saying all these good things about you," said Rowe. "They all seem just right for me. Just picking one is the toughest decision of my life.
"But Penn State was my No. 1 because of a lot of things. With their reputation in academics and football, I really don't think I can lose.But I still don't believe this. It hasn't really come into focus yet."
Rowe was the focus of a tough Wilde Lake defense from his strong safety position -- the same spot in which Penn State coach Joe Paterno intends to play him. Rowe made 60 solo tackles, had 78 assists, eight quarterback sacks, a fumble recovery and six interceptions. He was regarded for the last two years as the hardest hitter in the county. Penn State also likes his 4.5-second, 40-yard -- as well as his 6-2, 185-pound frame.
Wilde Lake coach Doug DuVall said he spotted Division I potential in Wall and Rowe early in their careers.
"WithRaphael, it was his speed. He could run with most seniors when he was just a freshman," DuVall said. "And he wanted to be a football player. He would watch all kinds of films of the great running backs, like O. J. Simpson and Gale Sayers. And when he had things he had to work on, like running for power, he worked hard.
"With Ricky, it was his field presence. He had the skills and the technique down pretty much as a 10th-grader, but he was a real heady player, a student of the game," DuVall added. "Plus, he can run backward almost as fast as he runs forward."