Potomac Falls senior Matt McLean stood on the football field at Auburn University last month prior to the Tigers' game against the University of South Carolina. There, in front of thousands of hyped football fans, he and other swimming recruits watched as Auburn men's swim team received its 2005 national championship rings.
Talk about persuasive recruiting.
After visiting the campus, inspecting the athletic facilities and seeing some of the perks that accompany a national championship, McLean was sold on Auburn. The all-American swimmer signed a commitment to attend the school on Thursday, becoming one of several area athletes who chose colleges during the NCAA's early signing period.
"Everyone is real serious about the swimming, which I like," McLean said. "It's perfect."
McLean was named first-team All-Met last season after winning the Virginia AA 200-yard freestyle title in a state-record 1 minute 39.96 seconds. He said he was impressed by Auburn's swimming facilities and other resources for the students.
"They have a really good athletic support system for the student-athletes and just the family and winning tradition down there."
Notre Dame Academy senior basketball player Lauren Thomas-Johnson committed to Marquette, which joins the Big East Conference this season. The school's move into one of the nation's most respected basketball conferences appealed to Thomas-Johnson.
"I really liked it there when I went on my visit," Thomas-Johnson said. "I felt like I fit in there. The girls and just the coaches -- it just felt right."
Thomas-Johnson, a 5-foot-10 guard who also can play forward, came to Notre Dame from England last season. She averaged a team-high 14 points per game and chose Marquette over Cincinnati and Seton Hall.
"She's a very strong guard that can score from different areas of the floor," said Notre Dame Coach Mike Teasley, who helped Thomas-Johnson navigate the recruiting process.
Broad Run shortstop Connor Mullee committed to St. Peter's College, a Division I school in New Jersey. The unanimous all-Dulles District shortstop chose St. Peter's over Virginia Military Institute and Longwood.
"My family came from New Jersey," Mullee said.
"I like the area. I like the city," he said in reference to New York.
Two Heritage athletes also committed to schools. Senior golfer Greg Brouse will attend Longwood University, and Kelly Haller will play softball for Virginia.