Don't blame J.B. Walton for being happy. The Lackey senior has been one of the state's dominant linemen the past two seasons, has helped the Chargers win 25 games and reach consecutive Maryland 3A title games, and has been one of the most recruited linemen in the nation.

Walton can afford to smirk when he looks in the mirror and sees his freakish physical gifts: a 6-foot-3, 275-pound body that can scoot downfield as a lead blocker with a tailback's quickness.

"He knows stuff that I learned three or four years after I started playing in the NFL," said Lackey assistant coach Rod Milstead, who played eight pro seasons with three teams.

"But now he has to be mean this year."

Lackey Coach Scott Chadwick said one college coach told him that Walton is the best high school lineman he had seen in 30 years. But attitude is something no combine drill can measure, and Walton knows that.

"They said that I can play," he said. "But I've got to get a little nasty streak."

Walton said that no matter what he does to psyche himself up, he hasn't been able to start a game with the killer instinct he needs.

"It takes a couple of plays to get me into it," Walton said. "I don't get mad right away."

That's not quick enough, Milstead said.

"Instead of driving a kid 15 yards, you've got to drive him 15 yards and be mean while you do it," Milstead said. "In order for him to be successful at the next level, he has to be mean. Once someone does something mean to him, he's not going to like it."

Walton certainly isn't getting the cold shoulder from any of the schools pursuing him. He has pared his list down to nine schools, including Penn State, Nebraska, Florida State, Oklahoma and LSU.

And what each school loves are Walton's skills for someone his age.

"I learned this from someone who played in the NFL," said Walton, referring to Milstead, who returned to coach at his alma mater when Walton was a freshman. "This is how you zone block. This is how you pull. Nobody else can teach you that. [At other schools] they just teach you to go get the guys up front."

Walton is hoping to learn one more lesson.

"They say you have to be a different person" in college, Walton said. "That's what I'm trying to do this year."

Lackey offensive lineman J.B. Walton has all the physical tools to excel at the Division I level, coaches say. Now, he just needs the attitude. "It takes a couple of plays to get me into it," Walton said. "I don't get mad right away."