Heads turned and fingers pointed at David Harvey when he arrived for the first day of McDonough's football practice.
"Hey, that's him. That's the guy going to Nebraska."
The Rams had heard Harvey's story but knew little about him. In November he moved to Southern Maryland from Sumter, S.C. He had not been a starter at Sumter High. Yet, after an impressive showing of his raw skills at Nebraska's summer camp in June, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Harvey was offered a scholarship and unofficially committed to the Huskers.
Well, his new teammates wanted to see what he was all about.
"You just hype and hype a person, and it makes you wonder about it," said senior wide receiver Rob Gregory. "But you could tell right away, when he plays, he brings it."
Harvey not only brought a skilled, thick body to the defensive line and the position of tight end, he also brought players. While he was the starting center last season on McDonough's basketball team, which made the Maryland 3A semifinals for the first time in 19 years, Harvey also played recruiter to his hoops teammates.
Gregory, the basketball team's point guard, had not played football since youth league. The same went for junior Preston Faulk, the shooting guard. Yet, after Harvey told them how they formed such a cohesive unit on the basketball court, they thought the same thing -- why couldn't they teach the Rams to do the same on the football field?
"Dave told me I could be out there doing some of this stuff," Gregory said. "We feel we can do some of the same things if we're all together -- schoolwork, sports, whatever -- just like we were for basketball season."
Attitude was the missing ingredient for the Rams last season. Team members were young and inexperienced. After winning their first two games, they lost seven of their final eight and finished with a worse mark than the previous season for the third year in a row.
"We knew the biggest thing we lacked last year was leadership and chemistry," McDonough Coach Dave Bradshaw said.
Harvey plans to bring that, too, along with some humility.
"Since I haven't played that much, I want to learn a lot," he said. "I want to play and have people look up to me, maybe teach some of the younger kids a little bit.
"I think everybody realized what happened last year was bad. They're encouraging themselves to do better."