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Despite Charges, Prep Football Standout Remains Tackle-Eligible

Pat Lazear
Wheaton senior Pat Lazear, with ball, looks to elude both opposing tacklers and the long arm of the law this season. (Joel Richardson - The Washington Post)

After his arrest, Lazear said he worried that colleges would rescind scholarship offers. North Carolina State stopped its recruitment, Lazear said, and a Notre Dame coach visited Whitman to tell him the school would no longer pursue him. But Lazear still receives frequent text messages from coaches at Alabama and Ohio State among others.

"Coaches have said pretty much, 'We hope you can get it taken care of,' " Angela Lazear said during testimony last week. "It's been a hanging threat over our heads."

Lazear's attorney, the prosecutor and the judge debated Lazear's college prospects at the hearing. Said Dugan: "It depends how good he is. Even if he is convicted of armed robbery, some school out there will take him."

The judge will allow Lazear to visit Ohio State in early October, so long as a parent stays with him at all times, because he is also attending a family function. Although Paul Kemp, Lazear's attorney, told Dugan in court that he doesn't anticipate requesting any other college trips, Lazear said otherwise. "I might take some of my official trips," Lazear said, "like just as vacations."

It's been a long time since Lazear enjoyed such freedom. In May, the court issued a curfew that forced Lazear to be home by 7 p.m. Dugan extended that curfew to accommodate practice and games. "The curfew sucks," Lazear said. "I was going to have this great summer -- go on fishing trips, get a job, go to the beach. I couldn't do any of it."

Lazear said the focus of his next four months is simple: "I want to get a [championship] ring, finish school and just get to college," he said. Lazear is taking an English correspondence course through Brigham Young University that will enable him to graduate in December. He hopes to enroll in college in January to spend an extra semester taking classes and practicing with the football team.

Lazear anticipates going to trial in November, but Kemp, who once defended boxer Mike Tyson, said a plea agreement is possible.

Lazear will wait for the resolution of his criminal charges before making his college announcement. He said the ESPNU television network is interested in a live broadcast of the announcement.

"Even if the punishment is worse, I just want to get it over with and move on," Lazear said. "If this drags on . . . it might mess up getting to school and getting started with football."

Staff writer Lori Aratani contributed to this story.

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