While last year's All-Met football players were feeding on less-skilled opponents, they had no inkling of the amount of humble pie that would be a part of their diets a year later.

When they reached college this season with the expectations of national recognition and instead fought for recognition on their own campuses, it was tough to swallow.

"I understand now but I took it kind of hard at first," said Norman Williams, a kick returner from Eastern who is a redshirt wide receiver at Ohio State. Williams took it so hard, in fact, that he says he doesn't even tell people he's on the football team. "I'll tell them next year when I get some good {playing} time."

Redshirting -- letting a player practice with the team but not play in games in order to get an extra year of eligibility -- is a blessing in disguise for most players.

Take DeMatha graduate Bryce Bevill, who went to Syracuse as a running back. Being redshirted lets him get accustomed to college life, both athletically and academically.

"I had to get used to being on my own," he said. "I knew I had to work hard mentally . . . and studying has taken up a lot of my time." But Bevill says being redshirted has also helped him become acclimated to college football. "Television coverage and the media is real big here. When you're not in the spotlight you want to do something to get into it. But it's hard to get used to knowing that everyone else is just as good as you are."

Scott Whitt, a Madison graduate, not only had to get used to college life, he needed to get used to a new way of life. Whitt traveled 3,000 miles to muck around on the offensive line of Stanford. "Pretty much the big difference is every day is a sunny day . . . and everyone is laid back," he said.

But he says that being redshirted has helped him understand the team philosophy of winning. "It's a great feeling to be part of a team with the attitude that we want to win all the time," he said. "I'm on a bunch of service teams to help the defense. On the college level it's, 'I want to help you do well so the whole team can do well.' "

Not all the former stars have taken so well to feeling a bench under them instead of the playing field. It's a difficult adjustment to go from playing every down to just watching and wishing. Just ask Monday Mogollon.

Mogollon, a guard for Virginia state champion West Potomac last year, went to Division III Frostburg State. After realizing he wouldn't start for the Bobcats, he quit the team.

"The guy {starting} in front of me was a senior and the captain of the football team," Mogollon said. "I didn't think I wanted to sit on the sidelines the whole game." Mogollon recently was hit by a car and has withdrawn from school. He says he plans to try out for the squad next year when he has a more realistic chance of playing.

An alternative to the sideline blues is to enroll at a junior college. Stuart running back Charlie Garner, The Washington Post's offensive player of the year last season, was actively recruited by powerhouse Miami. But his grades weren't good enough to get into the school, so he went to Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. "We got a lot of film on him and I only had to look at the first three minutes," said Scottsdale Coach Sheldon Ploeger.

Garner has increased his market value by becoming the nation's leading junior college rusher, with 271 carries for 2,059 yards and 23 touchdowns. "He's got moves that I've never seen before," said Ploeger. "He reminds me of O.J. Simpson."

Scottsdale was primarily a throwing team at the start of the season. But when the starting quarterback was injured, Ploeger changed the game plan to take advantage of Garner. He responded with three games of 300-plus yards rushing, including a game with 430 yards and six touchdowns that got him into the pages of Sports Illustrated.

"But that wasn't even his most impressive game," said Ploeger. Against Arizona Eastern, Garner had the stomach flu and in 2 1/2 quarters gained 254 yards and scored four touchdowns before being taken out because of dehydration.

Although Garner is about the only 1989 All-Met making headlines, he's not the only one getting playing time. Larry Holmes (St. Albans) and Keith Lyle (Marshall) have played in seven games for 11th-ranked Virginia, and Tommy Burns (McNamara) has played in two games. According to T.C. Williams Coach Glenn Furman, linebacker Keith Burns is starting for Navarro (Tex.) Junior College, last year's junior college national champions. Second-team All-Met B.J. Hawkins of Potomac (Va.), the backup quarterback at Notre Dame, could be leading the nation's top-ranked team if starter Rick Mirer goes down.