For Polley, a Seminole moment Dunbar star signs for football, plans to play basketball, too

January 23, 1996|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Amy Polley's labors and hopes have been for her three sons to "make it."

Yesterday at Dunbar, she stood beside her eldest son, Tommy, as he took a major step toward realizing her hopes and dreams by announcing his intention to sign a full football scholarship to Florida State that will allow him to continue playing football and basketball.

"Tommy was born when I was 16, and people said things to the effect that we would never make it. I've worked hard over the years and still do now," said Amy Polley, a clinical data coordinator at Johns Hopkins Hospital, a retail worker at a Montgomery Ward and a part-time student majoring in nursing.

"This gives me reassurance that all of my determination has paid off and that I've guided Tommy in the right direction. But I'm not trying to live his life for him, so the final decision was his to make."

Polley, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound linebacker in football and forward in basketball, chose Florida State over offers from Maryland and Florida.

"I just got off the phone talking with Coach [Bobby] Bowden to make it official," Polley said of Florida State's football coach. "I'm going to sign a football scholarship, but I'm going to play two sports there."

Then Polley, 18, was greeted with applause at his news conference at Dunbar when he leaned over and kissed his mother, thanking her for years of support. He also thanked his stepfather, Henry Whittington, and younger brothers Dwayne and Antoine.

Polley is one of the state's most accomplished two-sport athletes. He has led Dunbar's football and basketball teams to state titles in each of the past two seasons.

Twice chosen The Sun's All-Metro Defensive Player of the Year in football, Polley this year was picked as Maryland's Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press and was selected as Maryland's Gatorade Player of the Year.

Dunbar football was 42-5 during Polley's four seasons. The Poets were playoff semifinalists in 1993, went 12-0 and won the 2A title in 1994 and were 12-1 and 3A champs in 1995.

"He played for me for a year at Northwood Rec, and I saw flashes of his becoming an outstanding player," said Dunbar football coach Stanley Mitchell. "And when I first saw him play as a freshman, I predicted he could be an All-American.

"He's very knowledgeable, a sound and intense player. College football will be harder, with better players, but I see him rising to the occasion as he always has. He's a coach's ballplayer who'll give his all and leave everything on the field. And after college, I believe Tommy will reach the next level."

Bowden likes Polley's speed and agility and sees him at outside linebacker.

Polley had 58 career sacks (16 this past season), an average of 14.25 a season or 1.26 per game. He intercepted 12 passes last season.

In basketball last year, Polley earned All-Metro honors for leading the Poets in scoring (15.2) and rebounding (9.8). He also averaged 4.3 assists as the Poets went 25-1 and won the state Class 2A crown.

This season, Polley has gotten better, averaging team highs in points (21.7) and rebounds (12.6) for the fifth-ranked Poets (6-4).

"Tommy hates to lose and comes to play every day, very hard, at both ends of the court," said Dunbar basketball coach Paul Smith. "When he puts his mind to a task, whether in the classroom or on the football field or the basketball court, he gives whatever it takes to get it done. It's a good day for both Dunbar and Florida State."

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