City College quarterback Terrence Suber barely has snapped on his football helmet for the first practice of his senior season.
Yet his father, Terry, has been swamped with letters and telephone calls from Division I college recruiters wooing his son.
"He [Terrence] said he wanted me to handle all of this, so he could stay focused on playing football," said Terry, whose son, carries a 3.7 grade-point average and is a returning first-team All-Metro selection.
Last year, Suber led the Knights to a 10-0 record -- including a 14-8 victory over Poly in the 103rd Poly/City game -- and a No. 1 ranking in The Baltimore Sun's top 20 poll. For City -- which trails the series with Poly, 50-47, with six ties -- it was the second unbeaten season and No. 1 ranking since going 11-0 in 1987.
And since last fall, interest in Suber has been pouring in from schools that include Duke, Notre Dame, Rutgers and Army.
"I don't know the system, so I've let my father handle things," said Terrence Suber, 6 feet, 175 pounds, who runs a 4.4-second 40-yard --.
City's George Petrides, The Sun's 1991 Coach of the Year, is hoping the early attention doesn't become a distraction to Suber or his teammates.
A constant drizzle forced the Knights into the school gymnasium for their first day of practice Saturday. But the weather didn't dampen their enthusiasm as Petrides -- City's coach since 1975 -- preached the importance of maintaining focus during the upcoming season.
"No doubt, we're the team to beat with eight starters back on offense and four on defense," said Petrides, 43, who is 88-68-1 and has won two second Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference titles.
City's offense figures to be formidable even after the graduation of The Sun's Offensive Player of the Year, Hari Lymon, who accounted for 1,063 yards and 19 touchdowns.
The Knights' offensive line averages 235 pounds, and Petrides calls it "potentially the best that I've had.
"This team is very mature, and it starts with our quarterback," he said. "But Terrence is very unselfish, and he'll be the first one to attribute his success to the offensive line."
It's a line that includes center Marshall Holmes (6-2, 225), guard Xzavier Logan (6-0, 245) and tackles Gregory Gillis (6-2, 230) and Jason Burke (6-3, 240). But its largest member is 6-2, 260-pound guard Shawn Scott.
"I've talked to some players from other teams and they seem intimidated, knowing I play for City. But I know they'll be coming after us," said Scott, 17, a three-year starter. "Coach told us today that the main thing is to forget last year, but we want to prove that last year wasn't a fluke."
Behind Scott and company, fullback Antonio Travers (6-1, 230) generated 600 yards and five touchdowns last year. A good pass blocker in the Knights' option attack, Travers added 15 pounds, heeding advice from college recruiters.
Again, he expects to complement wide receiver Dwight Banks, who runs a 4.5 40-yard -- and caught 20 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns.
"I expect to handle the ball more this year, but I enjoy blocking and being a team player," said Travers, 17, who is a tri-captain with Suber and Scott. "This year, I'll have to be more of a leader than a follower. I'll have to step it up more."
Carey Hugh (5-9, 210) likely will increase his team-leading 60 tackles from last year. Holmes, the second-leading tackler, with 48 (five sacks), was a second-team All-Metro pick. Scott and Logan made honorable mention.
"I'm sure that we'll be scouted a lot more than last year, but I think this team can accept that," Petrides said. "But I do think it's going to be a lot more difficult [to repeat] because last year, we kind of snuck up on people."
A year ago, City was coming off a sixth-place conference finish (5-5) and figured to have little chance of dethroning Poly, which went 9-1 in 1990.
The Knights, who had lost nine defensive starters to graduation, began the year unranked. MSA rivals Poly (No. 1), Loyola (No. 2), Forest Park (No. 10) and Calvert Hall (No. 11) were ranked.
"Coming into last year, we weren't getting that much press because of the year that we had before," said Suber, who rushed 57 times for 402 yards and passed for 1,027 yards, completing 51 of 83 for 12 touchdowns.
"For motivation, we used the write-ups that other schools were getting -- especially Poly. But this year, we're the ones everyone's going to be shooting for, so we know we can't look past anybody."