In paring down his list of options for next year, Damascus senior Rashard Budd wanted to be best prepared for a chance to play in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The second-team All-Met pick looked at junior colleges and a few prep schools before recently settling on Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa.
Budd will follow in the footsteps of former Damascus linebacker Josh Francis, who used two seasons at Lackawanna as a springboard into a career at West Virginia and last month, an invitation to rookie minicamp with the Detroit Lions. The 6-foot-3, 280-pound defensive tackle is eager to get started on that path.
“Whatever gets me to the next level, I’m down with,” Budd said during a break Wednesday between practices for the Maryland Big 33 team. “I’m ready to do it.”
Budd attracted interest from FBS schools, including several in the Atlantic Coast Conference, during a senior season in which he finished second on the team with 62 tackles, helping the Hornets to an unbeaten regular season.
He notched 6.5 sacks with two forced fumbles and two blocked kicks and also added a touchdown catch as a tight end. He was at his most dominant in a 14-13 win over rival Seneca Valley on Oct. 26 when he blocked the tying extra point attempt and later added a sack and an interception to seal the victory.
Budd’s performance in the classroom didn’t always stack up to his production on the field, but he hopes to get that turned around quickly. He’ll likely spend two years at Lackawanna, a school with a reputation for getting promising football players on track academically. The team is coached by former University of Maryland and NFL defensive lineman Mark Duda and is a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association.
Baltimore Ravens tackle Bryant McKinnie played for the Falcons before winning a national championship at Miami and now has a building that serves as a dorm and weight room on campus named after him. Twenty players on the 2012 squad gave commitments to continue their careers at FBS, FCS or Division II schools.
“I had options,” said Budd, who was also the leading scorer on the Damascus basketball team. “I felt more comfortable at Lackawanna. It’s kind of close to home, so I just stuck with that.”
This week, Budd is preparing for the Big 33 Football Classic, playing alongside teammate Andrew Nickell, who will walk on at William & Mary. As he prepares for the 56th-annual all-star game he’s living with a host family along with Northwest wide receiver Tyler Ambush, a former youth league teammate.
After playing in the Maryland Crab Bowl in December, Budd said he’s grateful for another opportunity to get back on the football field before he heads to Lackawanna on July 28. Pennsylvania’s group of offensive linemen includes two players signed at Penn State and another headed to Pitt.
“Staying focused,” Budd said of his plan for success at Lackawanna. “Don’t let the outside people distract me or anything like that. If I just focus on my school work and football, I should be fine.”
In other Damascus recruiting news, sophomore Jalen Christian is planning to visit Michigan, Notre Dame and Penn State this summer, according to assistant Gregg Frazier.
The wide receiver/cornerback doesn’t currently have offers from any of the three schools but hopes to add them to his list of suitors that is up to 14 FBS schools. He has also visited Virginia Tech, South Carolina, Ohio State and West Virginia, all of which have offered.
Recruit Watch: The latest offers, commitments and signings