Survivor Maybin thriving heading into senior year

Impressive performances at spring camps have made the Mount Hebron star a sought-after linebacker/defensive end college prospect.

High School Sports Football

September 02, 2005|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

As they neared the end of their road trip to Penn State University's Nike Camp for football prospects in late April, Michael Maybin reminded his son, Aaron, what they had been through together in life.

When Aaron was 6, his mother, Connie, died while giving birth to his younger sister, also named Connie. Aaron struggled emotionally for the next seven months. One of the things that helped his healing was his eventual stepmother, Violette, teaching him how to read The Lion King. It was no small feat for a boy who had trouble translating written words.

His father reminded him that Michael was the 12th of 14 children born to a steel-working father and a mother who sold dinners to buy him clothes. Michael was the only child who attended college -- Penn State -- but he never graduated.

"It's a special time we'll always refer to as `The Moment.' We were in tears," said Aaron Maybin, 17. "A lot of schools were close to offering me scholarships. Dad said, `You're so close -- just turn it on' at the Nike camp. He wanted so much for me and me for him. What happened the next day was for both of us."

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Maybin "tested off the charts" at Nike, said Mount Hebron coach Larry Luthe, noting the first in a series of efforts that have transformed his No. 1 player into a coveted linebacker/defensive end prospect.

At the University of Maryland last spring, Maybin posted a camp-high 41-inch vertical leap. He was timed at slightly above 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Sheldon Shealer, co-editor of MDVarsity.com, a recruiting Web site, saw Maybin's effort at Penn State, where his athleticism and strength -- he bench-presses 310 pounds --prompted a comparison to former University of Maryland standout Shawne Merriman, drafted 12th overall by the San Diego Chargers.

"Merriman is a pure linebacker, but Maybin has a similar mean streak and a nose for the ball," Shealer said. "He's not quite the lay-the-wood player that Merriman is, but he's not a wait-and-see prospect, either. People want to see if they can mold him into that type of player."

At a recent Mount Hebron practice, Maybin came out of nowhere to drag down a runner from behind. "Once my hand's in the dirt, my adrenaline's flowing, my heart's pumping. All I see is the ball carrier," said Maybin, whose summer regimen included two hours of weightlifting and running on a daily basis.

Scarcely 30 minutes after the practice, Maybin was in his living room a mile from Mount Hebron, his sculpted arms cradling a stack of letters from college coaches. Maybin leafed through hand-written notes from Maryland's Ralph Friedgen, Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer, North Carolina State's Chuck Amato and Illinois' Ron Zook. One, from Penn State's Joe Paterno, was dated May 2 -- two days after Maybin's effort at Paterno's school.

"Congratulations on a great job at Nike, we hope you'll consider Penn State," Paterno scribbled in cursive. "Tell your dad I'm sorry I wasn't allowed to visit with him Saturday -- NCAA rules."

Virginia's Al Groh wrote, "On May 3, I told you I wanted you on my team and was offering you a full scholarship ... I asked you to trust me to follow up our conversation with a letter confirming my offer -- now, you have it."

A fourth-year starter, Maybin has helped the Vikings go from 2-8 to 7-3 to 8-2. Maybin calls football "my passion." He refers to painting and drawing as "my talent."

When he was 9, Maybin depicted a chaotic street corner, over which the face of Martin Luther King Jr., in a cloud-filled sky, pleaded, "Stop the violence" as a tear streamed from his left eye.

Two years later, Maybin painted a 50-by-40 foot mural across the rear wall of the Heritage Building on St. Paul's Street. Part of a neighborhood improvement project, the mural depicted three hands belonging to people of different races putting up the last bricks on a wall.

Maybin plans to graduate from college in less than four years as a journalism or communications major, then focus on another degree in art. While taking honors English and advanced writing, Maybin earned a 3.2 grade point average as a junior.

The Maybins have toured college campuses on unofficial visits since Aaron's sophomore year, noting everything from the size of weight rooms to the graduation rates of African-American players.

"How do you facilitate the players' lives, academically? Do you have tutors? How many guys are you recruiting at his position?," asks Michael Maybin, a fire inspector in Baltimore City. "Sometimes, through their omission of certain things, you learn what is and isn't a priority."

By Aug. 24, Aaron Maybin had narrowed his picks to Penn State, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia Tech, all of which have offered scholarships. Maybin hasn't closed the door on offers from Maryland, Auburn, N.C. State, Florida State, Miami, Georgia or LSU. His five official visits will be scheduled on Saturdays -- the day after Friday night games -- with an eye toward committing "midway through or at the of the season."

Maybin liked one school in particular, but declined to name it.

"I wore a throw-back Lawrence Taylor jersey near a section of students who were like, `Hey, No. 56 -- come be LT for us.' But only a small percentage of college players make it to the NFL," Maybin said. "Football's an outlet to get my degree, but it's not intelligent to let everything ride on it. Getting my degree is how I need to thank my parents for being so hard on me and pushing me."

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