With the high school football season getting underway, college recruiters are expected to keep close track of District teams this season with an eye toward snaring the city's top players for the college ranks next fall.
And while the teams that were pre-season favorites work to justify their advance billing, the recruiters are expected to focus on last year's junior class standouts, players who have emerged as this season's most-likely-to-succeed.
Although the fortunes of Interhigh teams outside of league play have left something to be desired, the league has never been accused of being short on individual talent.
This season is no different, and while many players have demonstrated ability to make a future contribution in college football, there are three who rarely fail to receive mention in the recruiters' scouting reports.
Demise Williams of Anacostia, William Brockenberry of Dunbar and Reggie McNair of McKinley all represent the right combination of ability, size and academic accomplishment to mesh perfectly with the plans of almost any major college football power.
Williams, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound free safety, transferred from Eastern to Anacostia when his coach of two years, Willie Stewart, was reassigned to the Southeast school.
While the exodus of several of Eastern's players to Anacostia caused a stir during the summer, the move seemed natural for Williams because, had it not been for Stewart, the senior might never have pursued a football career.
According to Stewart, Williams decided to attend Eastern after a basketball scholarship offer from DeMatha failed to materialize as he had hoped.
"When I found out he was enrolled here (at Eastern), I was all teeth in one minute and put him in a uniform in the next, even though he was thinking mostly of basketball then," said Stewart. "He's a natural athlete and he's been a joy to work with since the first day."
Williams is still a stellar basketball performer and has excelled in baseball as well, but his athletic forte under Stewart's tutelage is playing in the defensive backfield on the gridiron.
"Demise can do it all at the safety position," Stewart said. "He possesses superior running and jumping ability. On the field he's intelligent and a real team leader."
In his sophomore season, Williams terrorized opposing receivers, corralling nine interceptions while leading Eastern to records of 7-4 overall and 5-1 in the Interhigh East. Last season, he led the team with 11 interceptions, as the Ramblers posted a 5-4 record overall while going 4-1 in the East.
This season Williams is expected to make an even greater contribution to Stewart's defense. Neither coach nor student anticipates trouble because of their transfers.
"I've played and learned under the same coaching system throughout my football career," said Williams, "and I saw no need to change this season. Academically, I'm set. So I don't see where transferring will present a problem. I'm just looking forward to a productive season."
At Dunbar, the development of quarterback William Brockenberry has, since last season, been the cause of much excitement.
For those unfamiliar with the Crimson Tide football program, the first question about the senior signal caller usually is: Why is a 6-foot-4, 225-pounder playing quarterback instead of beefing up the line?
But Brockenberry possesses what may be the strongest arm in the Interhigh and all of the skills needed to be a good passer.
After playing behind Phillip Morgan as a sophomore, Brockenberry threw 22 touchdown passes last season to lead Dunbar to a 7-3 overall record and 5-1 in the East.
"Brock has developed the leadership qualities to play quarterback," said Dunbar Coach Luther Banner. "But he still needs to put together bits and pieces to be top-notch. It may happen this week or maybe the week after, but it will happen. He already has the awareness, alertness and physical skills to run the type of run-and-pass offense that we use."
Some 35 schools have expressed interest in the senior with the rifle arm, according to Banner. And although Dunbar lost most of last season's line and receivers to graduation, he says Brockenberry has yet to do his best work.
"People are used to seeing him drop back, set up in the pocket and fire," said Banner. "But he has amazing foot speed and he will be running more this season."
Reggie McNair, a three-year starter at middle linebacker for McKinley Tech, is a stalwart on a defensive team that may develop into the league's finest by season's end.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder averaged nine tackles a game last season in leading Tech's defense to six shutouts in a 9-3 overall and 6-1 Interhigh West record. He has been clocked at 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash and bench presses 310 pounds.
"Reggie's responsible for the run in our 5-5-1 defense," said McKinley Coach Maurice Pope. "He always gets the job done and he's a vicious hitter. He'll really undress you coming through the line."
McNair earned all-Interhigh accolades last season and is being wooed by more than 40 schools, according to Pope, including such notables as Penn State, the University of North Carolina, Nebraska and Ohio State.