Edmondson's two-time All-Metro defensive end Jason Murphy, The Sun's 2000 All-Metro Defensive Player of The Year, stared into the glaring lights of the local television cameras, glanced at the 200 or so students in attendance at the school and breathed a sigh of relief.
Then the 6-foot-4, 255-pound senior, who is among the nation's most highly-recruited defensive linemen, leaned forward and ended what he considered an intense, but "interesting" two weeks of recruiting.
"Virginia Tech," said Murphy, slipping on a baseball cap with a "VT" across the front, setting off a mixture of laughter and applause. "I thought it was the best place for me for excelling in sports and academics. It's a loving atmosphere, which is how my family brought me up. It's the place I'm going to graduate from after the next four or five years."
Murphy made what his coach, Pete Pompey, called "a man-sized decision" with his parents, Ben and Anna, and older sister, Ericka McCray, 26, in attendance. He had dedicated his career to his mother, helping her recover from the loss she suffered when Murphy's older brother, Jamal, was killed when Jason was a sophomore.
"I didn't realize I'd have this chance, this chance at a free education, but once I found out I could get a free education, I kept on pursuing my dream," Murphy said. "It took a lot of hard work to get to this point. Going to summer school I kept on going and I never stopped."
Among those in attendance were Green Bay Packers wide receiver Antonio Freeman (Poly) and Buffalo Bills defensive back Keion Carpenter (Woodlawn), both of whom attended Virginia Tech. Murphy said he had earlier talked to Freeman and Carpenter about the Hokies' program.
During the past two weeks, Murphy received visits from Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer and Penn State coach Joe Paterno. Murphy also visited South Carolina and Syracuse, and he was also recruited by Miami, Florida and Michigan State before narrowing it down to the Nittany Lions and Hokies.
Pompey said Murphy is close to achieving the SAT score that, with his corresponding grade-point average, would make him a full qualifier. Virginia Tech last ventured into Baltimore City in 1999, when it recruited Patterson's Michael Crawford, who also was not a full qualifier when he signed.
Crawford, now a redshirt freshman, not only played strong safety last fall, but also made the dean's list. Milford Mill's two-time All-Metro pick, Richard Johnson, a receiver, and Woodlawn's Vince Fuller, a defensive back, are redshirt freshmen at Virginia Tech who are competing for starting roles.
"The first thing Virginia Tech asked was am I going to graduate," Murphy said. "They told me it takes hard work, dedication and sacrifice. But I thought, coming up to this point, I've already been doing that. It's not going to be hard to continue that in college."
Murphy said he will sign on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period for football.
Murphy has been a nightmare for many an offensive backfield in the past four years. Murphy had 17 sacks last season, 47 in the past two and 60 in four years as a starter.
He played his first organized football during his freshman year, when the Redskins finished 3-7. With Murphy in the lineup, the Redskins have won 28 of their past 30 games, reached the 2A state final and semifinals the past two seasons, and won three straight City West Division crowns.