Antonio Logan-El could have coasted. Even before his junior year at Forestville, he had accepted a scholarship offer to play college football. He was set.
Four days before the start of preseason practice, however, things are back to being uncertain for Logan-El, with one exception: He is working harder than ever and appears to have matured significantly from previous seasons.
Perhaps the easiest glimpse into Logan-El's off-field development came this May, when he met with University of Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen to inform the coach of his decision to explore other options because he had grown uncertain over his previous commitment to the Terrapins.
"I was a bit nervous" entering the meeting, the 6-foot-5, 325-pound Logan-El said. "You never know how a person is going to react. They could say, 'You go ahead and look at other schools, we're going to try to find another player.' But they didn't do that.
"I told him what I was going to do so everybody would be on the same page and none of the coaches from Maryland would have to read on the Internet and say, 'Wow, Logan-El is opening up his recruitment.' It was tough because I didn't know what the reaction would be like."
Although Friedgen cannot comment publicly about a recruit until the player has signed a national letter-of-intent -- something that cannot happen until February at the earliest -- it is safe to assume that he was not thrilled by such a development. Recruiting the state's top prospects has been a challenge for the Terrapins, who have attracted their share of these players but just missed out on several others. Landing Logan-El so early was considered a good start for the 2007 incoming class of freshmen.
Instead, Logan-El is back on the market and has become one of the Washington area's top recruiting prospects. But what impresses Forestville Coach Charles Harley is Logan-El's maturity, particularly when it comes to being recruited.
"A lot of my kids commit early, but usually they don't change their minds," Harley said. "He did it the right way, by telling the coaches. As a coach, you want your kid to honor the commitment he made. But he did it the right way, he didn't leave the coach in the dark to hear about what he was doing from other places."
It was a difficult decision, Logan-El said, but one he felt was necessary after he performed well at spring combines and other colleges began to take notice.
"I had never been to any college besides Maryland," Logan-El said. "They were the first to offer me, [and] a bird in the hand is better than 10 in the bush [so] I committed to Maryland. They have good coaches, good players, and it all seemed to work out. Once my name got out there more, I got a lot of offers, and the things that turned me on to Maryland and made me like Maryland, I heard the same thing from a lot of other coaches.
"So I stepped back and said, 'Hey' I'm going to be in love with all these schools. I need to see if I feel the same way with those coaches or better or in a different way.' "
Logan-El recently spent a weekend at Penn State and plans to return to State College for an official visit this fall. He also wants to take official visits to Oklahoma, Tennessee and Florida, with an opening to take one more visit, if he desires. After a summer of dedicated weightlifting, he has no shortage of offers.
"I've become self-motivated; being a leader, I've taken on that responsibility," Logan-El said. "I might have been at workouts often, [in the past] but I've never worked out as hard as I am now. I have self-determination. Then, I was competing with guys in my high school or competing against other teams. Now, I'm looking out to prepare to compete against guys at the next level."
Said Harley, "It's the hardest he's worked since I've known him."
Logan-El might not be the only one to benefit from his hard work. While talking to Penn State assistant coach Larry Johnson last weekend, Logan-El got a phone call from teammate and friend Wayne Moten, a running back who had just run a 4.47-second 40-yard dash and wanted to tell Logan-El, who then passed the news on to Johnson.
"He wants a highlight tape on Wayne as soon as possible so they can step up the process of recruiting Wayne," Harley said.
Sounds like pretty good teamwork, an offensive lineman leading the way for his runner.