James Easterly, the huge lineman who played a big role in two straight state championship football seasons at Wilde Lake, has announced he will attend Georgia Tech on a full football scholarship.
The 6-foot-6, 300-pound Easterly, who had never played organized football until transferring to Wilde Lake from Oxon Hill High School in Prince George's County two years ago, plans to sign a letter of intent Wednesday.
Easterly decided on Georgia Tech -- which recruited him to play defensive tackle -- after strongly considering Syracuse and Virginia Tech. He also visited Miami and South Carolina, and heard sales pitches from Penn State, Maryland and Boston College. Penn State coach Joe Paterno paid Easterly a two-hour visit at his home last month.
"Itwas too hard of a decision. I'm glad it's over," Easterly said. "I figured I could do well with any of my choices."
Easterly, who madehis announcement two days after Wilde Lake linebacker Brent Guyton chose UCLA, said several factors influenced his thinking about GeorgiaTech, which two years ago finished No. 1 in the country.
"There are more opportunities for me," he said. "They have a good engineeringprogram. Atlanta is a great city, and the (1996 Summer) Olympics arecoming there.
"I still have a lot to learn. I think I want to redshirt (as a freshman). And if I don't work out on defense, I can playoffense."
Easterly played both sides well at Wilde Lake. When he showed up at Wilde Lake as a 6-3, 260-pound junior, he had never wornshoulder pads. Wilde Lake coach Doug DuVall took him aside, told himhe had the potential to play big-time college football and asked Easterly to follow his lead.
Easterly responded by learning his tackle positions well enough to start on offense last year, and both ways as a senior. Last fall, he was a key blocker in an offense that averaged five touchdowns a game. He helped the defense record eight shutouts and limit opponents to less than 100 yards a game. College coacheseverywhere were impressed by his combination of size and agility.
"He's a real Cinderella story," DuVall said. "It took a lot of maturity on his part. He had never played. I told him 'This is how it can be,' and he did everything he had to do to make it happen. He's one of the great experiences in my coaching career, and he's going to playin the NFL someday."