Navorro Bowman hit the ground and felt his right shoulder pop out of its socket this past Monday in Suitland's 28-7 loss to Gwynn Park. It was a huge blow for the Rams. A running back and linebacker, Bowman is his team's best player on offense and defense. He also is the punter for the Maryland 4A defending champions. Without Bowman in the lineup, the Rams are a different, far less imposing, team.
But there is more to consider than just a team losing its key player.
Bowman is one of the Washington area's most heavily recruited players and there is concern about whether the injury will affect the recruiting process. After injuring the shoulder twice within a month, Bowman eventually will need surgery to repair the joint, according to Suitland Coach Nick Lynch.
The injury seems relatively minor, but the recruiting landscape is a delicate balance of perception, on-field feats, and college coaching staff's belief in a rising player's potential. An injury clouds that.
Will the same schools still want to give Bowman a scholarship? Will they want to see how he returns from the injury?
"You never know what people's feelings are, you never know," Lynch said. "Nothing is etched in stone. He hasn't signed anything. You never know what folks may do. Am I a little concerned about it? Yeah, I am."
Lynch thinks things will work out fine, but he acknowledged there is a certain amount of anxiety. And Lynch is not alone. This year's senior class is one of the most talented ever in the area, and at least four top prospects have had to deal with injuries.
Mount Hebron defensive end Aaron Maybin missed a game with a knee injury. McDonough senior A.J. Wallace had a pulled quadriceps muscle in the preseason that he played through. Lackey lineman J.B. Walton tried to play through an injury as well, but he had to miss a game and was limited in two others because of a hairline fracture in his lower leg, the result of being kicked by an opponent.
Lackey Coach Scott Chadwick expects Walton to be close to full strength this week and said there was no concern about rushing Walton back too soon.
"The doctors didn't actually cast it and when the pain subsided enough to where he could play with it, they cleared him," Chadwick said. "Because it was an injury that wasn't going to get worse, we made every attempt to get him back in there as soon as possible because he's too valuable."
Wallace, Maybin and Bowman, however, have injuries to the muscles or joints, which can require longer to heal and are more susceptible to reinjury. While all coaches want to give all of their players the proper amount of care before letting them play, with a star player who has a potential scholarship worth thousands of dollars at stake, it is only natural to make extra precautions.
"With the nature of Navorro's injury, I know we sent him to see two other doctors in addition to his doctor," Lynch said. "The other thing is, with him being recruited so heavily, I knew the things he had done in the preseason to prepare himself for the season. I knew he wanted to get back out there."
The Tide Turns
Alex Stadler was looking for a place to kill some time. Liberty's talented offensive lineman was visiting a series of colleges this past spring, traveling to Tennessee one day and Florida two days later. He had one day in between and was looking for another school to visit.
"It was a fluke thing. You look at the map and it worked out that [Alabama] was in the traffic pattern," Liberty Coach Tommy Buzzo said. "He called and set things up. They hadn't even seen film on him. He went, the film was sent and the offer came real fast."
And after taking official visits this fall to Alabama, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, Stadler this week committed to play for the Crimson Tide.
"Probably the biggest lure was the atmosphere," Buzzo said. "When he went down in April, they were on spring break and the whole town [still] revolved around Alabama football. . . . It just goes to show, you never know, explore your options in everything."
It's Pitt for Nwude
Eleanor Roosevelt center Selena Nwude, a third-team All-Met last season, said she has committed to play for Pittsburgh. Nwude also took an official visit to Florida, but said she felt most comfortable during her visit to Pittsburgh.
"I enjoyed the campus and Pittsburgh looks like downtown D.C. to me," Nwude said. "It felt like home. I think their program is up and coming. I kind of picture Roosevelt as a mini Pittsburgh."
Nwude was hampered much of last season by a sprained ankle sustained during volleyball season. She said she is not playing volleyball this fall so that she can be in the best possible shape when basketball season starts. She also wanted to make her college choice before the season so that she could focus solely on her high school season.
"I wanted to get it done early so I could have peace of mind my senior year and not worry about what school I was going to go to," she said.