First impressions do mean a lot, and anyone who has ever seen North County's Anthony Walker play football is not likely to forget him.
And the state's football coaches haven't.
Walker, the Anne Arundel County Sun Football Player of the Year, has become the first county player named to the Big 33 high school football all-star game in two years.
Football coaches around Maryland, including Jerry Franks of Northern High in Calvert County, remembered the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder very well.
"I remember him as a sophomore at Brooklyn Park High. He was an outstanding player then," saidFranks, who will be head coach of the Big 33's Maryland team, which will play against Pennsylvania's best this summer in Hershey, Pa.
Franks was at Wilde Lake Interfaith Center in Howard County yesterdayfor the Big 33 press conference to introduce the Maryland team.
Named as a defensive end on the Maryland team, Walker was an outstanding linebacker and running back at North County the last two seasons. Before that, he sparkled at Brooklyn Park High before the school merged with Andover to become North County.
"We played North County two years ago, and in preparation for that game, we looked at old Brooklyn Park films as well as Andover films to get ready for them," said Franks, the former head coach at DeMatha in Hyattsville who was an assistant at Navy before taking the Northern job three years ago.
"Anthony should do very well for us and in college. He's an outstandingathlete."
Walker rushed for nearly 800 yards in the Knights' run-and-shoot offense last fall, and on defense was in on 141 tackles, 88unassisted. The Annapolis Touchdown Club presented him with its Rhodes Trophy.
"Anthony deserves it. He's one of the better players inour county. We're real proud of him," said Walker's coach, Chuck Markiewicz, the Anne Arundel County Sun Coach of the Year who will be anassistant on Franks' Maryland staff.
"I got very interested in the Big 33 game with Jerry Mears when I was at Meade. This is a big-time atmosphere."
Markiewicz was an assistant to the late Meade coachMears when Mears played a prominent role in getting Maryland involved in the Big 33 through the Maryland Football Coaches Association seven years ago.
"If you watched New Year's Day bowl games, there were players in almost every bowl game who had played in the Big 33," added Markiewicz.
Walker is aware of the company he joins and the game's national reputation. A Pennsylvania spokesman called the contest"a showcase bowl game."
"I've been wanting to play in this game since ninth grade, and being selected is wonderful, a great honor," said Walker.
Walker credited Markiewicz for developing him defensively, and it's on defense that he impressed Syracuse enough to receive a football scholarship.
Blessed with size, speed and quickness, Walker, who will run the 100 and 200 meters for the Knights' track teamthis spring, appears to have a bright future at the Division I level. Coach Franks sees him as having the ability to sparkle at a couple of positions.
"He should do very well in college football," said Franks, who used to recruit players for Navy and who has sent scores of players to the college ranks as a high school coach.
"I think Anthony could play inside or outside linebacker if he gets bigger, and certainly has the speed to play in the secondary. And I don't think offensively that he's totally out of the question either. He could be a tailback in the Syracuse offense."
Walker says he's not sure what's in store for him at Syracuse, but he is not worried about it.
"For now, I'll be concentrating on the Big 33," said Walker.