Their high school glory behind them, dozens of football prospects are checking in at area colleges. For these untested freshmen, the next few days will be filled with physicals, drills and twice-a-day workouts. Then they will meet the veterans.

Forget the high school credentials. "We're starting fresh, with no pressures on our freshmen," Maryland Coach Jerry Claiborne said.

"They've got enough pressures, with moving into the dormitory, getting familiar with our terms and plays, going through conditioning, weight lifting and speed tests."

Virginia landed the best high school prospect, Nick Merrick, a Parade all-America from Bethel Park, Pa. Merrick came within one yard of the national scholastic record for pass catching yards in a season, with 1,193 yards on 83 catches in 1980. He chose Virginia over Notre Dame, where his brother plays.

Virginia also has Annandale's Don Ervine, an all-America honorable mention from Woodson.

Other locals heading for Virginia include defensive back Lester Lyles, a second-team all-Met player from St. Albans; running back William Frazier of Herndon and linebacker Leo Maruschak from Gar-Field.

Maryland has several area players, including linebacker Vernon Carter (Fort Meade); fullback Bobby DePaul (Archbishop Carroll); linebacker Tony Edwards (Wheaton); tight end Kevin Glover (Largo); wide receiver Terry Ridgley (Seneca Valley) and wide receiver Mike Strittmatter (Springbrook).

Other in-state players include Pat D'Atri, a linebacker from Cumberland's Fort Hill High School, and Chris Knight, a tight end from Cambridge High School in Stevensville. Maryland also has five prospects from Pennsylvania, three from New York, two from New Jersey, one from Delaware and one from Virginia.

The heftiest Terrapin recruit is 6-foot-4, 260-pound James Rudd, a tackle from Hempstead, N.Y.

At Howard, Coach Floyd Keith came up with two all-Met selections, quarterback Brian Sloan of McKinley and tailback Perky Warner of Friendly High School. Warner opted for Howard despite the fact he was a late-round draft choice of the Chicago White Sox in June.

Keith also found five recruits in Virginia's Tidewater, traditionally a strong football area.

"We've always done well there," said Keith, in his third season. "Of course, Norfolk and Virginia Union and Hampton Institute and Virginia Tech are also pulling for those kids, but we did well."

Part of Howard's appeal lay in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference's newly acquired automatic berth for the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs, expanded from four to eight teams this year. Howard was 6-2-2 last fall, for its first winning season in five years.

Navy Coach George Welsh would have liked some time with the freshmen before the veterans showed up, but the plebes were engaged in mandatory summer activities until the start of practice.

One of Welsh's most promising new players is Napoleon McCallum of Cincinnati. Area plebe recruits include nose guard Ed Digges (James Madison); quarterback John Hefti (Woodbridge); defensive back Evan Oliver (Fort Hunt); wide receiver Chris Weiler (Annandale) and running back Rudy Villareale (Stonewall Jackson).

Tight end Bill Rogers, who attended George Marshall High School, transferred from Georgia Tech and will sit out this season. Rogers caught a touchdown pass against Navy last year in the Midshipmen's 19-8 victory.