Former Culpeper High football standout Kent Hicks was in Hampton, Va., last week for an all-star game when he received an unexpected phone call from the University of Maryland.

Hicks, a 6-foot-3, 207-pound safety, was told he had not been admitted, even though he met the NCAA's and ACC's minimum academic standards and in February had signed to play for the Terrapins. He said he was offered the opportunity to attend prep school and re-apply to Maryland next year, but declined. Instead, he'll play for Virginia Tech this fall.

Maryland coaches "said I wasn't accepted [because] their standards are tougher," Hicks said.

After Maryland's call, Culpeper Coach Randy Bove contacted Virginia Tech and Tennessee, two schools that had also recruited Hicks. The Hokies had a scholarship to offer; Tennessee was not sure whether it had one for him, Bove said.

Hicks chose Virginia Tech over the weekend and notified the Hokies' coaching staff of his decision, which was first reported in yesterday's editions of the Newport News (Va.) Daily Press. On Wednesday, Hicks drove to Blacksburg, Va., to sign the grant-in-aid paperwork.

As Bove worked to find Hicks a school, Hicks responded with a stellar all-star game. He recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass and was named the West team's defensive player of the game.

"It was like he was a free agent," Bove said. "I'm just very proud of the way he handled the whole situation. That was tough news for an 18-year-old kid to hear. But he dealt with it maturely, then went out and earned defensive MVP of the all-star game."

A second-team All-Met, Hicks started three seasons for Culpeper, where he played several positions, including safety, wide receiver, quarterback, tailback, punter and kick returner. As a senior, he rushed for 291 yards and three touchdowns and caught 26 passes for 505 yards and six touchdowns. On defense, the hard-hitting safety recorded 109 tackles and two interceptions, finishing his career with 18 interceptions and more than 300 tackles.

Hicks, considered one of Virginia's top recruits, was a first-team all-Virginia AAA selection last fall.

"I'm excited about going to Virginia Tech," Hicks said. "I met with the coaches and some of the defensive players, and they made me feel comfortable. I think it's going to be a good fit for me."