Mt. St. Joe's Thompson to sign with UM Player of Year RB would be first from city to join Terps in 4 years

Culpepper picks Syracuse

Curley's Celenza opts for Clemson over Spirit

February 04, 1997|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Mount St. Joseph running back Aaron Thompson, Dunbar running back Ali Culpepper and Curley soccer star Giuliano Celenza will sign with Division I programs tomorrow, the first day of the NCAA's signing period for athletes in football, soccer and several other sports.

Thompson, The Sun's All-Metro Offensive Player of the Year, is headed for the University of Maryland with two other All-Metro players -- Wilde Lake defensive back Tony Jackson and Arundel quarterback Erik Lipton.

Culpepper, a four-year starter and two-time All-Metro pick, confirmed last night that he's accepting a full scholarship to Syracuse.

Celenza, a four-year starter, three-time All-Metro player and the Friars' all-time leading scorer -- will sign for a full scholarship to Clemson.

Thompson, who rushed for 2,325 yards and 37 touchdowns on 314 carries last fall, could not be reached to comment. This fall, he could become the first player from a school in Baltimore to wear a Terps football uniform since 1993 graduate and defensive end Jamie Flores, who left Poly in 1989.

Coach Mike Working said that Thompson, a Forest Park transfer, turned down a scholarship to Division I-AA national champion Marshall.

Culpepper totaled 4,817 career yards and 44 touchdowns to help Dunbar win two state titles and make four state semifinal appearances.

Northwestern, Michigan, Boston College and Michigan State "all wanted me to take my last official visits there, but after the Syracuse visit, that wasn't necessary," said Culpepper, whose commitment was reported Sunday in the Syracuse Newspapers. "After talking to the coaching staffs, I saw a commitment to African-Americans as far as getting their degrees."

Other area football players who will sign tomorrow are City's Michael Johnson (quarterback) and Chris Perkins (guard), both with Shepherd (W.Va.) College, and Mount St. Joseph quarterback Lucas Phillips (Bucknell).

When chosen by the Spirit in December, Celenza became the seventh high school player selected in the 12-year history of the National Professional Soccer League draft.

But Celenza, Curley's all-time scoring leader with 77 goals and 29 assists, will forgo a professional career for now, choosing Clemson over Syracuse, James Madison and UMBC.

Celenza scored a career-high 28 goals last fall, leading Curley to an 18-3 record and a runner-up finish in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association. Curley has played in four MIAA title games with Celenza in the lineup.

"Being drafted by the Spirit was an honor, but it's rare that you get a full ride to an ACC program," Celenza said. "Clemson has been recruiting me since November. I want to make the most of it."

Also signing with the Tigers tomorrow are All-Metro picks Mike Potempa (Loyola) and Pablo Webster (McDonogh), who announced their intentions in November.

Pub Date: 2/04/97

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