He is being courted by nearly all of the top college football programs, and he found it pretty cool be on a magazine cover. Walking the halls on the first day of school, however, provided a new sensation for Eleanor Roosevelt senior Derrick Williams, considered by some recruiting analysts to be the nation's top high school football player.

"A lot of people know me here," said Williams, who is accustomed to meeting with college coaches but seemed a little taken aback with the response of his classmates. "It seems like I'm a godfather here."

It was a rare moment for the All-Met Williams to seem surprised. After all, it was after the seventh grade that Penn State's football coaches saw how fast Williams could run the 40-yard dash and said they would have a scholarship waiting. He began preparing in ninth grade to graduate a semester early and intends on enrolling in January at the college of his choice and participating in spring practice.

Now, more than 50 colleges have offered scholarships, though Williams and his family have whittled the list to about a dozen.

Some athletes might have difficulty dealing with such a spotlight. Not Williams, who seems to thrive on it. He said watching his older brother, Domonique, go through the recruiting process before selecting North Carolina provided valuable experience. Instead of learning last season from high-profile teammates Derrick Harvey (Florida) and Trey Covington (Maryland), Williams said he was the one providing pointers.

"His determination and character are the things that impress me the most," Roosevelt Coach Rick Houchens said. It is "stuff you can talk about all the time, but [when you see] that character and leadership qualities, usually that's when you see great players. I've seen great athletes that weren't always great players because they never really developed into it."

Williams, however, seems to have it all. As a junior last season he rushed for 1,362 yards and 13 touchdowns and passed for 557 yards and six touchdowns. He also was a top cornerback. In college, he might be best suited to play wide receiver, a position he should see some time at this season with the addition of quarterback Nico Scott, a transfer from Ballou.

Others to Watch:

* Davon Gray, Douglass: Not as big or fast as the person he replaces, All-Met Quinton Brown, but the junior proved his toughness in relief last season and should be ready.

* Kelvin Jones, High Point: Struggled last season, but strong-armed senior could rebound under new coach Greg Hill.

* Kevin Olive, Pallotti: Passed for 1,317 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior last season.

* Marta Harley, Suitland: Threw eight touchdown passes last season, and his experience should be an asset for the Rams.

* Jomah Watson, Largo: Has a good arm and will be a key player for Lions' first-year coach Ray Crawford.


Some recruiting analysts consider Roosevelt's Derrick Williams the top player in the country.