Although he watches football games intently, Dick Portee is not overly concerned who wins or loses. The players' height, weight and 40-yard speed are more imperative.
Portee, outside linebacker coach for the University of Maryland, also recruits District high school football talent for Bobby Ross' Terrapins.
In his third season of recruiting in the District and coaching at Maryland, Portee can often be seen scouting Friday and Saturday games involving Interstate Athletic Conference, Metro and Interhigh competition.
Portee coached at Cornell (1977-81) and Illinois State (1969-76), and on the high school level in Decatur, Ill. At Eastern Illinois (1960-64), he was a running back and defensive back.
Portee's recruiting binge kicks off during the summer. "We go out in May," he said. "(Under NCAA rules) we cannot talk to the kids (during the summer), but we can talk to the coaches and see the kids on film."
A few days in a typical recruiting week will go as follows: "I may call a few kids on Tuesday and Wednesday evening and say hello. Then on Friday morning, I will go into the schools in D.C. to talk to the coaches, see how the kids are doing academically and look at film."
After being inside for most of the day, Portee then will go outside to "catch a 3:30 game." He often will view the first half of one game, then observe the second half of another.
On many Friday evenings, Portee will watch a night game at Spingarn, Dunbar or Theodore Roosevelt, the only city schools with lights. Two weeks ago, Portee traveled to Glen Burnie, Md., on a Friday night to see H.D. Woodson play.
District players are invited by Portee and his staff to watch the Terrapins play on home Saturdays. "A lot of kids in D.C. don't have a chance to get on campus," Portee said. "But they soon find out it is not that far."
Despite his efforts the last two years, no Interhigh football players have signed with Maryland.
"The biggest thing for local, or at least the Interhigh players I've coached," Anacostia Coach Willie Stewart said, "is that they all want to go away to school."
Last year, three of Stewart's Interhigh champion players decided to take their talents elsewhere. Martin Chesley (Southern California), Darryl Hamilton (North Carolina) and Joe Clark (Temple) decided College Park was not far enough away from home.
"My kids felt that the Maryland program was to close to home, despite the fact that they would be living in dormitories," Stewart said. "But Portee has tried to tell them that they are in fact 'away from home,' but not 'too far.' He tries to get them to realize that their families can watch them play on weekends."
The lack of District players signed by Maryland has not concerned Portee. "We want to try and sign the best players in D.C.," he said. "But we don't want to sign D.C. players just to sign them. We recruit this area like every other area: we want kids to have a desire to come to the University of Maryalnd. We are always looking for the best football players; we are not overly concerned with the area they come from."
According to Portee, four Interhigh players visited the campus last year and two were offered scholarships. "The competition (with other schools) is tough," he said. "Schools come in from all over the country. We work hard at Maryland to establish relationships and spend time with the kids and coaches, but it takes a while."
This season, Portee is impressed with the city's high school talent. "In the Interhigh, the best competition is between H.D. Woodson and Anacostia. They have two of the better programs. Roosevelt, Dunbar and Coolidge also have good athletes."
As for the Metro and IAC, "Carroll and Gonzaga have two of the better programs around. St. Albans has a good team and good players, and as for the other private schools, we hope we might find a player or two."
By the end of the football season, Portee will have seen most of the Distict schools play at least twice. Now, he says, three to five youngsters are recruitable.
And what if no players are signed again?
Portee will just glance at his list of seniors-to-be and prepare to begin his recruiting battle again next May.