A pair of All-Met running backs committed to play college football yesterday, with Eastern's Lawrence Wade choosing Temple and Thomas Stone's Marcus Whalen opting for Brigham Young.
Wade, 6 feet and 187 pounds, is the only D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association player to crack the 2,000-yard mark in rushing (he did it each of the past two seasons, racking up 2,297 yards in 1999 to go along with 26 touchdowns). He paced the Ramblers to a 7-4 record and a berth in the DCIAA championship game, where they lost to Dunbar.
"I'm excited about competing at the next level," said Wade, who runs the 40-yard dash in an eye-popping 4.4 seconds. "But right now I'm just focusing on this year."
Whether Wade plays next season for the Philadelphia school is uncertain--he has yet to meet the NCAA eligibility requirements for freshmen, although he said he is taking the Scholastic Assessment Test again in March.
The 6-0, 208-pound Whalen, a two-time All-Met, is a powerful runner with deceptive speed. He led the Cougars (11-1) to an undefeated run through the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference and into the Maryland 3A final last season, where they lost to top-ranked Seneca Valley.
Whalen rushed for 1,920 yards and 17 touchdowns last season on 238 carries. In his final two seasons with the Cougars, Whalen totaled 3,854 yards and 41 touchdowns.
"I'm more than happy," said Whalen, who sifted through more than a dozen Division I offers before choosing BYU over Auburn, Wake Forest and North Carolina State. "I feel a lot better now that it's over and I can just have fun and enjoy myself for the rest of my senior year. Now I can just focus on graduation--finally."
In addition to following his Mormon religion, Whalen said another key reason for choosing the Provo, Utah, school was the opportunity to have an immediate impact on the field. Coach LaVell Edwards told Whalen he should expect to play a great deal next season. The Cougars (8-3 last season) have lost their top two running backs from last season--one to injury, one to a Mormon mission.
"That was a big part of the reason I decided to go there," said Whalen, who has been cleared by the NCAA to play as a freshman. "I'm ready to play."
Students at BYU are encouraged--but not required--to take a two-year hiatus from school after they turn 19 to travel to different parts of the world and speak about the Mormon church.
Whalen said he does not plan to go on a mission.