They were once on everybody's All-Met high school football team. Now, they're in college, and first-string offensive linemen come at them in practice like freight trains. In the games, they stand on the sidelines, for perhaps the first time in four years.
But then they remember what others have gone through their first season in college. Then they remember that patience is a virtue, and they will get their chance.
"I wanted to play so badly," said Jonathan Holloway, who was an All-Met linebacker at Churchill a year ago but was redshirted this fall at Stanford. "Knowing you're suiting up but not playing, that's difficult. But it was a great learning experience mentally."
Delmar Chesley, an All-Met in 1984 at Anacostia and a redshirt linebacker this fall at Southern California, said: "I didn't come here with the attitude that just because I was an all-America in high school I would dominate here right away. I said I just wanted to earn it. I had nothing promised."
Chesley and Holloway, along with Lance Doty (Mount Vernon and a James Madison redshirt this fall), did not play a minute of college football this season, making them eligible for four more varsity seasons.
Not playing as a freshman might be cause for concern for some players. But Chesley, Holloway and Doty think they will see more playing time next season. And although they didn't like sitting on the bench, they knew that what they did in practice would prepare them for next season.
Holloway, the brother of New England Patriots offensive lineman Brian Holloway, suffered a shin injury in August and missed most of fall practice. He spent much of the season trying to learn the system.
"It was a season of peaks and valleys," Holloway said. "I was talking to my coach the other day, and we were talking about how there were some times I was really down."
When Holloway was healthy, he was put on the scout team, which scrimmaged against the first team in practice, using the system of the upcoming opponent.
"It was a great experience working against the first team," Holloway said. "I didn't think of myself as a blocking dummy. I think what I did was smart. I didn't think that what I was going through wasn't important."
Said Doty: "It was making me better going against the first team. It wasn't that bad. Our scout team did well against the first team."
Doty, an offensive guard, had two knee operations in high school, and he believes it might have been the reason that he was redshirted. Nonetheless, he believes he could have played this year.
"I was upset because I thought I could still play with my knee," he said. "They just wanted to make sure it didn't get worse. Next year, I have a good chance of starting or getting a lot of playing time. Spring ball will be my chance."
James Madison will be deep at the guard position next season, but Doty said he'll play anywhere, even at tackle. "I just want to play."
Chesley was second-string inside linebacker for the Trojans this fall, and when a player ahead of him got hurt, he might have been a starter. But Chesley chose to stay a redshirt. It was a difficult decision.
"I actually could have played this year," Chesley said. "They moved the guy on the other inside linebacker position over. The guys were going down like running water. I was sitting on the sideline, saying to myself, 'Should I have redshirted?' That really got to me because I knew I could have been out there. But you have to have patience.
"I asked them to redshirt me because I wanted to concentrate on developing my studies and learning about college life. As far as getting my degree on time, I'll have that fifth year. It's what I needed, what I had to do and what has to be done.
"I think it's a positive thing for the freshmen to redshirt and concentrate on their studies."
Chesley, whose brother, Martin, is a sophomore tight end with the Trojans, said although the player he has to beat out next year is a senior, that "doesn't mean that I won't challenge him" for the starting spot.
But if he doesn't play full-time, there's always his brother to go after in practice.
"I really love playing with my brother," Chesley said. "I kind of missed hitting him in practice in high school. That was one of the reasons I went out there."