Top scorer waiting for phone to ring Profile: Severn's Dennard Melton, likely to become the county's most prolific point-maker in two sports, wonders what's happened to the interest many colleges were showing in him.

January 30, 1998|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Each time the phone rings in Dennard Melton's Glen Burnie home these days, the Severn standout gets a little nervous.

Melton, Anne Arundel County's premier scorer in two sports, has done it all in four years of varsity football and varsity basketball at Severn School and, shockingly, has nothing to show for it in terms of college scholarship offers.

Signing day for college football is Wednesday, and Melton is hoping either the universities of Richmond or Massachusetts will come through with a serious scholarship offer to play Division I football and/or basketball.

"I thought it would be a piece of cake, but it hasn't happened," said Melton, who has received hundreds of letters from interested colleges since his freshman year. "I hope to hear something good, but if I don't, I haven't ruled out a chance at basketball, which means I could wait until April for that signing period."

It has not been a matter of fulfilling his potential in high school sports, because Melton has led his teams to championships, been the most prolific scorer in county history in two major sports, and is a popular student-athlete.

Melton set county records for career touchdowns (65, second in state history) and career points (412) in football and is the only player to be named to The Sun's All-County football team all four years of high school.

This past fall, Melton was named to The Sun's All-Metro football team as a defensive back and was one of only two county players (Meade's running back, Tanardo Sharps, was the other) named to the Associated Press's consensus All-State football team.

Through his football career, the 6-foot, 190-pound Melton played option quarterback, running back, wide receiver, cornerback, defensive back and returned kickoffs and punts. Last fall, he led the county in punting, averaging 44.1 yards per boot.

Melton played football for the first time as a freshman after coming into high school as a grade school legend in recreation basketball. He set a county season record for touchdowns on kickoffs.

As a junior, Melton, who finished third on the county all-time rushing list with 3,267 yards, set a county record for yards rushing (1,282) by a quarterback.

Melton's college football potential lies as defensive back and/or kick returner. Several college football coaches scouted him playing basketball and were impressed with his ability to play man-to-man defense.

Melton has displayed 4.5-second speed in the 40-yard dash, a 34-inch vertical leap, bench presses 250 pounds and squats 440 pounds. That's not to mention football instincts and moves.

"Dennard has put in a lot of time in the weight room and gotten so much stronger," said Severn football coach John Beckman. "There is no doubt in my mind he can succeed at the next level."

In basketball, Melton takes 1,708 career points into tonight's home contest vs. St. Paul's and is averaging 18.8 points a game for the Admirals.

With at least eight games left, he needs 116 points to surpass the county's career leader, Vince Barnett of Southern-Harwood. Barnett scored 1,823 points from 1987-91.

After making second team All-county basketball as a freshman and third team as a junior, Melton was named first team last year and second team All-Metro.

Melton can drive the lane, rebound, take it out on the perimeter and sink a three-pointer, and he seems to love playing defense.

"I really think he could play both sports in college," said basketball coach Jim Doyle, who first saw Melton dribbling in fifth grade. "Dennard is a winner."

Melton is surprised his efforts have not equated to an athletic scholarship.

"I'm a little surprised after all the schools that contacted me the last couple years," said Melton. "Yes, I'm disappointed, but I realize I have to move on and not let it get to me. I never take it with me onto the basketball court."

At one time, such schools as Maryland, West Virginia, Navy, Syracuse, Virginia, Penn State, North Carolina and Indiana, were interested in him.

So, what went wrong?

Attitude and character? No problem there. Melton always has been focused. It's a common sight in Severna Park to see Melton get off an MTA bus just before 7: 30 a.m. and walk less than a mile to Severn School.

Academics? No, he was given the green light by the National Clearinghouse with his 2.3 grade-point average and 930 SAT score, and he took the test again recently.

His size? Scouts have told his football and basketball coaches that he is big enough, as well as athletic and strong enough, to be a college defensive back.

"One thing that might have hurt was the time they had for me at a combine at the University of Maryland my junior year," said Melton. "The time was off. They said I was 4.8 in the 40, but I'm a 4.5 runner, and I think that [4.8] got around and a few teams that saw me play when I was hurt might have believed it."

Melton often played injured in both sports, realizing his value to the team, and that might have hurt him. But you won't hear excuses.

Melton was asked if he had regrets about choosing Severn, when several high-profile private schools, DeMatha among them, were interested in him when he was in grade school?

"Absolutely not. Severn was the school for me," said Melton, who cited a positive experience academically, athletically and socially at the school. "If things don't work out, I may go to prep school, then to a university."

Pub Date: 1/30/98

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