Last fall they were both on their way to high school football stardom. One was an all-Met tailback who rushed for 1,100 yards. The other was an all-Interhigh quarterback who threw for more than 1,000 yards.
This season, however, Perky Warner and Brian Sloan are willing to watch from Howard University's football sideline and wait. Warner hopes to be the Bison's punter. Sloan is busy memorizing his playbook, confident that the future of Howard football will be delivered into his hands sooner or later.
Warner led Friendly to a 10-1 record his senior year, six times gaining over 100 yards with a high of 166. He also punted and placekicked. But the 5-foot-7, 160-pounder had no problem with college recruiters hounding him. They didn't even knock lightly.
"I wasn't too surprised," said Warner, whose only solid offer was from Howard. "They told me I didn't have the size. That wasn't anything new to me."
Sloan did not gain much notoriety until his senior year at McKinley Tech when Maurice Pope became head coach. Pope decided that Sloan, who had gained 600 yards as an option quarterback the previous season, should become a passing quarterback. He completed 65 percent of his passes, 11 for touchdowns, and still ran for 450 yards. Sloan finally chose Villanova from among numerous offers.
"Howard was my second choice," said the 6-foot, 165-pounder. "But the day before I signed my letter of intent, Coach (Floyd) Keith spent the whole day with me. I told him I made up my mind but he stayed anyway."
When Villanova gave up football last spring, Keith's persistence paid off.
Sloan currently is playing behind senior Raymond Gray and sophomore Sandy Nichols. All three looked impressive in an intrasquad scrimmage last weekend.
Warner knows about being overlooked. He originally made Friendly's squad as a punter and didn't even get a chance to run during early practices.
"I'd be happy just being the punter (at Howard)," he said. "I don't know if it will turn into the same situation as it did in high school. Everybody's bigger and they hit harder here."
Keith says he would like to see Sloan develop slowly. " The coach is happy with Warner's punting and says he already considers him "one of my top four backs." That's a pleasant surprise to Warner.