Right before he signed his national letter-of-intent to play at Maryland Wednesday, Friendship Collegiate lineman Derwin Gray whipped out a pair of sunglasses in the gym of the Northeast Washington school. The shades had a Terrapin ornament attached, and after Gray put them on, he smiled wide for camera crews and reporters. Somewhere, the Maryland coaching staff had to be smiling, too.

Months after he orally committed to his hometown school, the 6-5, 290-pound Gray made it official Wednesday, a gifted player celebrating a college scholarship which seemed like a long shot two years ago.

Gray was one of the more feared offensive linemen in the area last fall and helped build Friendship Collegiate’s running game into a prolific attack in 2012, as the Knight’s produced a 1,100 yard rusher in junior Jonathan Haden. It was a redemption-filled season of sorts for Gray, who last year transferred to Friendship from Dunbar, where he missed nearly his entire junior season due to academic issues.

“It’s very significant. The situation I came from, basically I had no grades. Basically, talking about, man, ‘He ain’t going to make it,’ ” Gray said. “My big thing was to basically prove everybody wrong. Coaches, people’s fathers, everybody.”

After he became academically eligible to compete at Friendship, Gray blossomed up front this fall, including a dominating effort in the inaugural DCSAA championship game against his former team in December. A first-team All-Met selection on offense, Gray joined teammate Yannick Ngakoue in Florida in January for the Under Armour All-America Game — which marked the second consecutive year that Friendship Collegiate was represented in the game. Offensive lineman Eddie Goldman represented the Knights at the game in 2011, and about a month later, committed to Florida State.

Gray said he will enroll at Maryland for the summer, and even on Wednesday, he looked antsy to get back on the football field. He struggled sleeping on Tuesday night, like most recruits do the night before National Signing Day, but now that it’s over, there’s no more waiting. Just preparing, he said.

“Now that I signed the letter,” Gray said, “it’s time to get to work.”

More coverage on AllMetSports.com:

Earlier on Recruiting Insider: Derwin Gray heads to Maryland

DISCUSS: Has recruiting landscape shifted in Maryland’s favor?

Derwin Gray on Twitter

2012 All-Met football team: Offense

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