Five years ago, fans and college recruiters were lured to H.D. Woodson games not just as high school football enthusiasts, but as curiosity seekers. They wanted to see a team that had Raymond "World" Smith, Kevin Robbins and Durell Marshall.

For high school players, Robbins (6 feet 4, 290 pounds) and Marshall (6-5, 280) were huge. That limited the descriptive adjectives for Smith, who was 6-6 and 465. One end sweep with a pulling guard was worth the price of admission.

Marshall went to the University of Southern California and this season is a rookie with the Buffalo Bills. Robbins went to Michigan State and is now with the Cleveland Browns. Smith, down to about 380 pounds, is a redshirt senior who has started the past three seasons at Grambling.

As high school seniors, they were looked at as much as sideshow as for their talent. How things have changed in a short time.

Large high school players are prevalent around the Beltway. At Hayfield, for example, 19 of fourth-year coach John Thompkins's 71 varsity players weigh more than 200 pounds. Junior offensive tackle Amel Logan is 6-3, 290. Senior nose guard Ken Moore is 6-0 1/2, 275. Reserve junior defensive tackle Marion Hilliard is 6-4, 312.

With size like that, some might think it a disappointment if the Hawks had anything less than their 4-0 record. But Hayfield hardly stands out in Virginia's Northern Region. West Potomac lists 15 players over 200 pounds. T.C. Williams has 13.

"There are more of these guys than there ever were before," said Jim Fegan, in his 30th year coaching at Georgetown Prep. "In the 1940s, when I was in school, the only people who lifted weights were the body-beautiful people who wanted to look good at the beach."

Today, few schools can be competitive without an extensive weight program.

"You have to convince your players that they could be bigger, stronger and better," said Bob Milloy, the 17-year coach at No. 2 Springbrook. "That dirty, smelly room is where it starts."

Woodson still has several big linemen. One of the area's most highly recruited players is 6-7, 320-pound senior Robert "Future" Jackson. Woodson's other starting offensive linemen are center Antoine James (6-1, 270), guards Cortez Avey (6-3, 250) and Derrick Mills (6-2, 280), and tackle Jose White (6-4, 235).

"When {Jackson} came here a couple of years ago, the guys started calling him Future because he was so impressive at a young age and you knew his future was going to be bright," said H.D. Woodson Coach Bob Headen. "He was 300 as a sophomore, but he has gotten quicker, stronger and become a much better player."

Other big area players high on college recruiting lists include St. John's All-Met senior Wayne Holmes (6-6, 325) and Fairmont Heights senior Emile Parker (6-5, 300). St. Albans junior Jonathan Ogden (6-8, 301) already is among the best linemen in the area.

Other area 300-pounders include Courtland's Ricky Brown (5-10, 300), Ballou junior Robert Washington (5-7, 308), Phelps junior Chris Rucker (6-4 1/2, 330), Spingarn senior Michael Williamson (6-6, 300) and Good Counsel senior Dave Thomas (6-3, 315). Because there are so many 300-pounders around, the dozens of outstanding 250- to 290-pound players often are overlooked.

"When I played at Georgetown Prep in the early '70s, I weighed 215 and was the biggest player on the team," said St. John's Coach John Ricca. "Now some of these teams are bigger than my Duke University team. These players are so much bigger, faster and stronger."

Coaches said the growth is simply proportional to the generation. None of the coaches thought steriods played a part.

At one time, weightlifting was seen as a means to get an edge. Now it is almost a necessity. In many Northern Virginia schools, weight training is available as a class for credit.

"I think weightlifting is a matter of keeping up," said Gaithersburg's 33-year coach John Harvill. "I think every coach is encouraging it now, and if he isn't, he should be fired."

Woodson's Jackson learned to combine weightlifting and natural size. "In my sophomore season, I didn't want to play on the line," he said. "I just thought it was too difficult, although I weighed 300 pounds then. I could lift only 130 pounds, but I've improved each season and wouldn't want to do anything else. I'm pressing about 390 now and I want to be the best offensive lineman around."

The size of teenagers scares some. The death on the first day of summer practice of McLean junior David Robinson, who was 6-2 1/2, 274 pounds, was attributed to an enlarged heart. His size apparently was not a factor. But the incident has focused attention on youngsters who may have trouble carrying their weight.

Ogden's father, Shirrel, who was a 6-6, 340-pound nose guard at Howard in 1967-71, said he has put his son through many strenuous tests.

"I feel he is as big as he should be right now," said Ogden. "I just want him to be comfortable with his size. And, believe me, he is in fine shape."

For the oversized players, improving their skills is not always easy. Early this season, Ogden and Holmes met head-to-head.

Ogden "is a fine player and I learned a lot going against him," Holmes said. "When I go against someone smaller than me, I don't learn anything. All I can do is see what needs improvement and go out next week and try to improve on it."

Although there are many big players around, some schools only play against them, instead of with them. "If we put two of our kids together, we might have a chance to go against an Ogden -- then again, we might not even have a chance then," said Bullis Athletic Director Walt King. "You must be concerned when you run against a kid that size because football is a collision sport. If you have a big kid running into a smaller kid, the likelihood is that the smaller kid is the one that will get hurt."