Out of his brother's long shadow Football: Long Reach's Devin Conwell, always a defensive force, has become an offensive threat, too.

October 08, 1998|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

In the last two weeks, Long Reach's Devin Conwell has stepped out of the shadow of his older brother.

He hopes to cast his own shadow Saturday when the Lightning travels to Oakland Mills for a game with must-win playoff implications for Long Reach. In his freshman year, Devin was referred to frequently as Irving Conwell's younger brother -- tough shoes to fill.

Irving was a two-time Baltimore Sun Howard County basketball Player of the Year who went on to play two seasons of college ball for Mount St. Mary's. Irving also earned All-Metro football honors at Oakland Mills.

Devin has been an outstanding defensive football player ever since he became a starter as a freshman, and now the 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior is an offensive threat as well.

Three weeks ago, he gained 94 yards on 12 carries against defending Class 3A state champion Wilde Lake. Two weeks ago, he rushed for 178 yards and three touchdowns against a strong River Hill defense.

Last week, he tacked on another 155 yards against Mount Hebron and upped his overall touchdown total to seven. Conwell did fumble for the only time this season against Mount Hebron -- something coach Pete Hughes is not going to let him forget.

Devin attributes part of his new-found offensive success to the ,, fact that he's much stronger this season and has gained some speed as well as 10 pounds.

"Last season, I ran just for the fun of it," he said. "I'm finally learning how to do it. I'm becoming more of a running back every game and am starting to like it.

nTC "The key is the line. You can't do anything without it. Our strongest blocking has come from Brian Plumley and Tally White."

Hughes compares Conwell to a recent Baltimore Dunbar standout who now starts for Florida State. "He reminds me a lot of Tommy Polley a couple of years ago," Hughes said. "He wears the same No. 11 and is very aggressive on the field. He explodes on impact. He's a devastating linebacker who slips blocks and is a great reader.

"Like Polley, he doesn't have blazing speed that makes people miss you, but he's gaining 8 yards per carry. He's much stronger this season and is breaking arm tackles."

Conwell has received five letters from Nebraska in the past two weeks, and although that's a lofty level of football, Conwell is confident enough not to dismiss Nebraska's attention as misplaced.

"If I dedicate myself to getting bigger and grow a couple of inches, I could play strong safety at Nebraska. I love playing defense," he said.

Even though his offensive play is taking off, making only three tackles last week frustrated Conwell.

"Teams have been passing on us more this year, and last week they ran away from me, so I haven't gotten as many chances," he said. "My goals were to gain 1,000 yards and make 100 tackles this season. I made 99 tackles last season."

Conwell also has two fumble recoveries and two pass blocks.

Conwell and teammates Luis George and Tally White were all invited to the University of Michigan football camp last summer, and Devin said that was a good experience.

Like all brothers, Devin and Irving have arguments -- mainly about how good a football player Irving was.

"He [Irving] thinks the county is weaker now, so what he accomplished was greater, but it's still the same county and no different to me. I think I'm better at football and he's better at basketball," said Devin, who is a strong rebounder and two-year starter in basketball.

Pub Date: 10/08/98

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