Navarre gearing up for double life

High schools: The Joppatowne star will get a shot at a third state wrestling title while also getting an early start with University of Maryland football.

October 30, 2004|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

By late January, Jeremy Navarre will have earned enough credits to leave Joppatowne High School and enroll in classes at the University of Maryland. In the spring, he will join the Terps at football practice.

The senior All-Metro football player and heavyweight wrestler will take advantage of a national trend called early enrollment, a process designed to allow athletes to make an early transition to college life.

But that's nothing new.

What is new is the wrinkle Navarre has added, one that will allow him to retain his high school athletic eligibility long enough to compete for a third state wrestling title in March.

Navarre, 17, plans to take two courses at Maryland while also taking a course at Joppatowne to maintain his sports eligibility.

The move will permit him to complete the wrestling season at Joppatowne, which could end with the March 4-5 state tournament at Maryland's Cole Field House, and also to participate in the Terps' spring practices, which began in April last year.

"He'll be enrolled at Joppatowne in accordance with regulations that say he has to be enrolled and attending to represent his school, so he meets the criteria of remaining high school-eligible," said MPSSAA executive director Ned Sparks, who approved the plan last month.

The majority of state administrators contacted by The Sun have no issue with the ruling.

But others, such as Dr. Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, worry that Navarre has opened a Pandora's Box.

"It may be a win-win situation for the state of Maryland and this particular athlete, but I worry about setting a precedent for other high school athletes and teams under different circumstances," said Lapchick, author of a forthcoming book entitled The Future of Ethics in College Sports.

"I would be critical of a process that allows him to be in school [a college] on one level, yet to compete at a lower level in order to win a championship."

`Earlier the better'

Under a plan devised by his father, George, Navarre plans to start the process on Jan. 26 - the start of the second semester for both Joppatowne and Maryland - five days after having earned enough credits to graduate from high school.

"I'll get a feeling for the [Maryland] campus from a social perspective, an academic perspective and also in football," said Navarre, who was named The Sun's Male Athlete of the Year for 2003-04. "Especially in football, I want to get down there and get on that [college] level as soon as possible ... the earlier the better."

Navarre's daily grind will include a 100-mile-plus round trip between Joppatowne, where he'll take one course in the morning, and Maryland, where he plans to take two classes per day.

After his daily classes at Maryland, Navarre, who has a 3.25 grade-point average, will drive the nearly 52 miles to wrestling practice. The process will last for a little more than a month into early March, after which wrestling season will end.

"I want to win another state title in wrestling, then go to Maryland and hopefully play as a freshman," said the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Navarre, who was recruited by Maryland as a blocking fullback. "I want to do better this year in everything. That's the way things are with me."

Navarre said he began to focus on his college football future immediately after completing his wrestling season with a 37-0 record and his second state title.

He hired a personal trainer to improve his agility, speed and strength. He has dropped his 40-yard dash time from 5.2 seconds to 4.85 and has added 20 pounds of muscle, raising his bench press 55 pounds to 365.

His father, meanwhile, began to formulate the idea about wrestling and beginning classes at Maryland at the same time.

"We sat down in [Terps coach Ralph] Friedgen's office last spring and brought up the fact that a lot of players are enrolling early, but that Jeremy was in the unique situation of being a good high school wrestler," said George, an assistant football coach at Joppatowne. "[Friedgen] said he thought it was a good idea [that Jeremy continue wrestling]. And Jeremy was intrigued by it."

George Navarre took his plan to Harford County's athletic coordinator, Forest Wiest, who referred him to David Volrath, the district's supervisor of secondary education.

"There were two options: Early graduation or dual enrollment. If you chose early graduation, you're technically finished school, and he can't wrestle," Volrath said. "But if you chose dual enrollment, that's a form of part-time attendance that allows you to earn concurrent credits in college and the school system."

In a letter of approval dated Sept. 2, Volrath also determined dual enrollment would allow Navarre to complete his wrestling season. Sparks did the same in a letter dated Sept. 17.

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