Haswell Franklin can't say enough about Shawn Miller, the winningest wrestler in the history of Broadneck High School.
"Between Clarion and Lock Haven [universities,] Shawn had a choice between two of the nation's quality Division I programs," said Franklin, chairman of the Maryland State Wrestling Association, which listed Miller as the state's top-ranked 119-pound wrestler this past winter.
"He has proven he can compete with the best high school wrestlers. He's got Division I skill, heart and intensity."
But Miller didn't have Division I grades or Scholastic Aptitude Test scores. So last week, after winning a recruiting battle over Clarion coach Jack Davis, Lock Haven coach Carl Poff's program accepted Miller under Proposition 48. On Friday, the Anne Arundel County Sun's 1992 Wrestler of the Year signed a letter of intent to red-shirt at the western Pennsylvania school for a year and improve his grades.
"The next five years will probably be the toughest of my life," said Miller, a first-team All-Metro selection who posted a 101-5 career record at Broadneck, including 69-1 over the last two years.
"[Poff] said if I work hard and my grades improve, I'll definitely get a partial scholarship, if not a full ride. I can't represent or practice with the varsity team, but I can wrestle in open tournaments and with the other red-shirts when the coaches aren't around."
A three-time county and two-time Region IV champion, Miller was a runner-up in the state tournament a year ago.
Winning this year's state crown with a 35-0 record made Miller a household name in wrestling circles, but "even though [Broadneck coach John Mayberry] kept calling them, Lock Haven still wasn't interested," said Miller's father, Wayne.
But Lock Haven, ranked No. 25 nationally, and No. 8 Clarion both took notice after Miller's All-American performance in the National High School Tournament, where his fourth-place finish was the best among Maryland wrestlers.
"Then they started calling him almost every night," said Wayne, who along with his wife, Linda, were impressed with the academic challenges the schools offered their son.
"Education comes first at both schools, and Shawn's been working really hard with math tutors and on his SATs," Wayne said.
"Both schools have closely knit faculties, so the coaches always know what their wrestlers are doing in the classroom. Plus they offer good tutorial programs and intense study halls."
Miller made his decision based primarily on distance.
"My parents can get there easier," said Miller, who is undecided on a major.