Eddie Rivers knew this week of practice before the Super 44 high school football all-star game would be his last chance to hang out with several teammates from state champion Hylton. He did not know it also would be his first chance to hang out with one of his future teammates--Potomac lineman Jim Mayberry.
Mayberry, however, had seen Virginia's Super 44 roster before attending the first practice Monday, so one of the first things he did was to seek out Rivers, a defensive back whose biographical data differed from his own in every column except the last one, which read "Concord College."
"I knew Concord was recruiting him, but I didn't know until I showed up here that he was going there," Rivers said. "He just came up to me and asked if I was the other guy going there. It's nice to know somebody, because we are going to be freshmen soon."
Rivers and Mayberry chose to attend the small, Division II school in Athens, W. Va., for virtually the same reasons. Both liked its modest enrollment--about 2,700--because it meant smaller class sizes. Both liked its distance from home--"not too far and not too close," Rivers said. Both liked the way they were treated on their recruiting visits. But most of all, both liked the prospect of starting as freshmen.
Mayberry had additional incentive to choose Concord. After a junior year that attracted some Division I interest, he tore the medial collateral ligament in his left knee during preseason training last August and missed the first four weeks of the season. Mayberry kept growing--he's now 6 feet 5, 305 pounds--but his mail didn't.
"I was getting letters from a bunch of Division I schools before my injury," Mayberry said. "But as soon as I got hurt, all of those schools stopped sending me things, stopped calling. Concord stuck with me, so I had to respect that."
Virginia all-stars coach Joe Muskett believes Division I may have missed out, and that Concord may have gotten a steal.
"Jim Mayberry has the potential to be the best lineman out of this whole group," Muskett said. "He is tall, and his frame is such that he could handle a lot more weight. He's actually still a bit skinny; you can tell he's just started to really hit the weights, but he is going to be a big, big man."
While Mayberry's stock as a prospect seemed to drop this year because of his injury, Rivers took the opposite track to Concord. Because of his relatively small size (5-9, 165), Rivers was not recruited heavily and hardly at all as a junior. But Hylton assistant John Brown said Rivers remained dedicated to the weight room and improved his mental game considerably in the past year.
"He was just like a blanket for us this season," Brown said. "Nobody ever even really threw to his side. He was good as a junior, and we saw he could be better, but as a senior he just got more confidence."
Concord Coach Ollie Pottmeyer indicated he intends to let Rivers return punts in his first season in addition to playing cornerback. Muskett is not planning on using Rivers as a punt returner, but that is only because he wants him in the secondary every down. Muskett said he anticipates Maryland will do a lot of passing.
"Eddie Rivers is a gem," Muskett said, before adding, for emphasis, "that kid is a gem. He can do it all. He is by far our best coverage guy, he can return punts and in a pinch he could play wideout. And he has an excellent attitude."
Mayberry said Rivers likes to tease him about last season, when Hylton defeated Potomac three times. Rivers said Mayberry will be a good friend to have nearby at Concord, but the two are just starting to know each other.
"He is one big dude," Rivers said. "He's nice . . . and he sure likes to eat."
Note: Rivers and Mayberry will be joined at Concord by Stonewall Jackson running back Ricky Smith. Smith, who will room with Rivers this fall, was an All-Extra performer last year after running for 1,023 yards on 201 carries.
Super 44All-Star Game
When: Today, 6 p.m.
Where: W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax
Tickets: $10 for adults, $5 for children younger than 10 and students with proper identification. Gates open at 4 p.m.
Area participants: LB Tony Clay, Hylton; OL Matt Findley, Hylton; DL Ray Hicks, Hylton; OL Jim Mayberry, Potomac; WR Ray Pettis, Gar-Field; DB Eddie Rivers, Hylton; WR/DB Ed Simms, Potomac; LB Steven Stanley, Brooke Point; OL David Stevenson, Hylton. Hylton WR Boyd Ouden was selected but will not play.