National Signing Day 2014: Damian Prince, Caleb Henderson highlight area players expected to sign

Few mysteries remain among D.C.-area football recruits making their college choices official on National Signing Day Wednesday. The biggest is McNamara offensive lineman Damian Prince, who will choose between Maryland and Florida shortly after 10 a.m. on ESPNU. All-Met offensive player of the year Caleb Henderson (North Carolina) and Prince’s fellow first team All-Met lineman Sam Mustipher (Notre Dame) headline a long list of players planning to sign national letters of intent Wednesday. Here are 28 of the area’s top players who will be signing. This list does not include players that have already signed NLIs – such as H.D. Woodson’s D’Andre Payne (Tennessee) and Friendship Collegiate’s Jalen Tabor (Florida).

1. DL Da’Shawn Hand, Woodbridge

Rivals’ top recruit chose Alabama over Florida and Michigan in November, and at 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds, brings a combination of size, strength and honed agility to the Crimson Tide. Hand, who recorded 16 sacks and more than 10 tackles in four games this season, will affirm his Alabama commitment in a ceremony at the school at 7 a.m. Wednesday.

2. OL Damian Prince, McNamara

The 6-5, 292-pound Parade All-American is the nation’s top uncommitted offensive lineman and is expected to choose between Florida and Maryland on ESPNU around 10 a.m. Wednesday. His athleticism and quickness improved after he lost 50 pounds this past summer, which helped the two-time All-Met earn more than 40 offers.

3. QB Caleb Henderson, Lake Braddock

A potent dual-threat quarterback, Henderson is blessed with a strong arm and elusive speed. The All-Met Offensive Player of the Year threw for 2,159 yards and 20 touchdowns while rushing for 964 yards and 18 more touchdowns. Henderson will affirm his commitment to North Carolina Wednesday.

4. QB Trace McSorley, Briar Woods

McSorley led Briar Woods to three straight state titles, and dominated as he did it, accumulating 12,089  yards and 149 touchdowns in his four years under center. The dual-threat quarterback flipped his commitment from Vanderbilt to Penn State to follow new Nittany Lions Coach James Franklin, and will sign with Penn State Wednesday.

5. OL Sam Mustipher, Good Counsel

Mustipher, a four-year varsity player, will sign with Notre Dame Wednesday. He demonstrates strong leadership, good balance and footwork off the line, and has a strong body at 6-3, 294 pounds that made him one of the area’s most formidable blocking forces.

6. RB Taiwan Deal, DeMatha

The Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year and first team All-Met possesses 225 pounds of strength to go with breakaway speed, a combination that allows him to eat up large chunks of yardage and should serve him well in Wisconsin’s run-heavy offense. Deal rushed for 1,098 yards and 14 touchdowns for the WCAC champion Stags.

7. OL Brock Ruble, DeMatha

At 6-foot-8, 320 pounds, Ruble is an imposing force who has made great strides since picking up football as a freshman. His improved footwork and strength led to a flurry of offers and his eventual commitment to national champion Florida State.

DeMatha senior OL Brock Ruble committed to Florida State on Friday (Brandon Parker/The Washington Post).
DeMatha senior OL Brock Ruble committed to Florida State on Friday (Brandon Parker/The Washington Post).

8. DL Jesse Aniebonam, Good Counsel

The Maryland commit displays quickness off the edge, meaning he could be used as a hybrid linebacker and defensive end at the next level. Aniebonam has good hands and is deceptively strong at 6-5, 240 pounds.

9. DL Cory Jones, Carroll 

Jones erupted for more than 20 sacks as a senior, his first season of varsity play, leading to a commitment to Virginia. His blend of speed, strength, and good hands at 6-4, 210 pounds make him a capable defensive end and linebacker.

10. RB Nick Scott, Fairfax

A first-team All-Met selection, Scott rushed for 1,582 yards and totaled 20 total touchdowns at quarterback and running back for the Rebels in 2013. The 5-11, 185-pounder will affirm his commitment to Penn State Wednesday.

11. WR Cameron Phillips, DeMatha

The first team All-Met demonstrated his big-play ability in WCAC playoffs, coming up with several acrobatic touchdowns and third-down receptions. The Virginia Tech recruit has good hands, quickness and precise footwork in his route-running that led to a 14-touchdown season for the Stags.

12. ATH Will Ulmer, St. John’s

Though he played quarterback in high school, the Maryland commit’s speed and elusive ability makes him a dangerous threat at multiple positions. The 6-1, 182-pound Ulmer threw for 446 yards, rushed for 921, and even caught a touchdown for the Cadets this season.

13. OL Justin Herron, Bullis

The 6-5, 285-pound Herron anchored the offensive line for the IAC champions, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards behind the one-time Rutgers’ commit’s lead. Herron flipped his commitment from the Scarlet Knights just last week, and will sign with Wake Forest instead on Wednesday.

14. QB/ATH Travon McMillian, Hylton

McMillian was equally as unstoppable  with his arm, passing for 1,339 yards and 14 touchdowns, and his legs, as he rushed for 1,336 yards and nine scores for Hylton. The 6-foot, 196-pounder will bring that athleticism to Virginia Tech, where he committed in the hopes that he would get a shot at quarterback for the Hokies.

15. RB Solomon Vault, Gaithersburg

Vault missed most of his senior year due to a leg injury, but there was little doubt that he was one of the best running backs in the area when healthy. He ran for more than 1,000 yards in each of his sophomore and junior seasons, the latter in which he posted 1,251 yards and 22 touchdowns. He committed to Northwestern in April, and should add speed in the slot and backfield for the Wildcats.

16. DB Elliott Davis, Quince Orchard

The athletically gifted Davis had to decide what position he wanted to focus on in college – wide receiver or defensive back. His 6-foot-1 frame allowed him to double-down as one of Montgomery County’s most effective players as a junior and senior. He chose to commit North Carolina State as a cornerback in December, deciding over Clemson, Old Dominion and Rutgers.

17. DB Dae Jaun Funderburk, Friendship Collegiate

The 6-foot-1, 188-pound Funderburk burst onto the scene as a junior, and his ball-hawks skills made him a high-level recruit in 2013. He committed to West Virginia over Miami two weeks ago, becoming the third Friendship defensive back to pledge to a school this winter.

18. DB Greg Stroman, Stonewall Jackson

Stroman, who spent much of his Stonewall Jackson career under center, will shift to cornerback when he heads to Blacksburg next fall. The 5-10, 160-pounder chose the Hokies over Virginia and Duke, and will make his choice official Wednesday.

19. TE Micah Till, Wise

Till was a first-team All-Met selection as a defensive lineman, but was one of the area’s most dangerous game-changers with excellent pass-catching ability and FBS size (6-5, 260 pounds). Till, the hero of Wise’s 2012 4A state championship game win, caught 12 passes for 294 yards and two scores in a run-heavy Pumas offense and will sign with North Carolina State.

Micah Till hauls in the game-winning touchdown catch in the Maryland 4A football final against Quince Orchard. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)
Micah Till hauls in the game-winning touchdown catch in the Maryland 4A football final against Quince Orchard. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

20. OL Jake Hawk, Meade

The first-team All-Met selection will move from one run-heavy offense to another when he joins Navy in the fall. A bruising run blocker who also racked up 49 pancakes and didn’t allow a sack last season, Hawk’s college choice will also create a friendly family rivalry with his father, who served in the Army.

21. QB Zack Abey, Spalding

One of the area’s prime dual-threat quarterbacks, Abey threw for 874 yards and 10 touchdowns for the 8-3 Cavaliers while rushing for 1,653 yards and 19 more scores. Committed to the University of Buffalo until a few weeks ago, Abey found himself unable to pass up an offer from the Naval Academy, where he’ll be protected by Jake Hawk (above) and with which he’ll sign Wednesday.

22. DB Omar Truitt, St. John’s

The 5-11, 180-pounder was a staple in the backfield for the Cadets, and earned offers from several power conference schools including Illinois, Maryland, N.C. State, and Tennessee. Ultimately, Truitt chose Iowa, where he’ll join Forestville’s Marcel Joly and Gonzaga’s Miles Taylor in the defensive backfield next season.

23. LB Ja’Whaun Bentley, DeMatha

With offers from Iowa, Maryland, Purdue, Rutgers, Syracuse and Virginia, Bentley ultimately decided to be come a Boilermaker. Bentley boasts a 6-3, 249-pound frame and made 113 tackles — 26 for a loss — and four sacks for the Stags in their WCAC championship season.

24. DB Marcus Allen, Wise

Robbed of most of his senior season by a fluky ankle injury, Allen is one of Prince George’s County’s most formidable defenders. Committed to Penn State since spring of 2013, the 6-2, 190-pounder will make his commitment official Wednesday.

25. WR Melvin Holland Jr., Briar Woods

A Rivals four-star recruit, Holland Jr. caught 64 passes for 1,032 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior at Briar Woods. The 6-3, 190-pounder chose Minnesota over Wake Forest last week, and will formalize the decision Wednesday.

26. DB Alameen Murphy, Friendly

Largely under the radar because of Friendly’s 2013 struggles, Murphy was one of the best lockdown corners in Prince George’s County and as much of a force in the classroom as on the field. The 5-11, 181-pounder will sign with Stanford Wednesday, and plans to study engineering while he plays for the Pac-12 Champion Cardinal.

27. ATH Jerome Dews, Potomac (Md.)

At 6-3, 198 pounds, Dews was a light but potent defensive end for the Wolverines this season, recording 17 sacks and catching three touchdowns offensively. He’ll either bulk up to stay in Tennessee front seven, or use his speed and pass-catching ability to play in the defensive backfield, but will definitely sign to be a Volunteer Wednesday.

28. LB Anthony Jackson, Suitland

An unstoppable predator in the heart of one of the area’s best statistical defenses, Jackson tallied 171 tackles during Suitland’s perfect regular season. Despite being somewhat undersized at 5-11, 210 pounds, Jackson delivered plenty of big and crucial hits for the Rams, and will sign with Delaware Wednesday.

Keep up with the latest National Signing Day news right here on the Recruiting Insider blog.

Recruit Watch: The latest offers, commitments and signings

Chelsea Janes covers the Nationals for The Washington Post.
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