As Devante Brooks rode back home from his first unofficial college visit last month, the St. John’s sophomore couldn’t stop thinking about the Virginia Tech football experience he had just encountered.
Then his phone rang.
On the other end was a coach informing the tight end and defensive end that Illinois had offered him a scholarship — his second offer in less than 24 hours and continuing a recruiting process that’s ramped up for him and two of his fellow Cadets in recent months.
Along with Brooks, who also has an offer from Maryland, junior defensive lineman Eric Assoua has garnered offers from Toledo and Western Michigan while junior defensive back/wide receiver Ayron Monroe has piled up scholarships from Georgia Tech, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi State, Penn State, Toledo and Virginia.
“It’s all pretty exciting,” Brooks said. “I had really enjoyed my junior day at Virginia Tech and then to find out another offer came in right after that was pretty crazy. It took some time to really sink in.”
Though the Cadets graduate several key players from the team that reached the school’s first WCAC title game since 1991, including Under Armour All-American and Maryland recruit Will Ulmer, linebacker Maurice Harley (Delaware) and defensive back Omarr Truitt (Iowa), St. John’s boasts a handful of rising underclassmen poised to build off of last year’s success.
In Brooks, the Cadets possess a fast-rising prospect with the size (6 feet 5, 225 pounds), fundamentals and potential to make waves in just his third year of contact football. At the defensive end spot, Brooks is strong off the edge against the run and efficient at containing the quarterback. Schools are also intrigued by his ability at tight end, where he used a blend of power and speed to record eight catches for 124 yards and a touchdown last year.
Joining him on a defensive line that gave offenses fits last season is Assoua. The junior punctuated his breakout campaign with two sacks and a fumble recovery in the WCAC semifinals, showcasing his skills after returning to St. John’s following a year away at Blake High.
“When I got back to St. John’s, I came back hungry because people were questioning if I could go up against the best in this league,” Assoua said. “I know I can be a dominant pass rusher but I realized nothing comes easy, so I had to work hard and play to the best of my ability.”
Anchoring the back line for St. John’s defense will be Monroe, whose speed and athleticism have made him a target for many college coaches. Along with Truitt, Monroe helped shut down a number of wide receivers in contributing to a defense that held opponents to just under 11 points per game last season.
“Even though we made it to the championship last year, I think a lot of our players still don’t get the credit we deserve, so once the season comes, we’re really motivated to show what more we can do,” Monroe said. “My goal is to always make plays, interceptions and key tackles and as the team rallies around that, it contributes to a complete effort in our goal of winning a championship.”
NUMBER CRUNCH: 67
Years that the St. Anselm’s Invitational has been running, making it the oldest high school basketball invitational in the Washington metropolitan area. The Heights defeated St. Anselm’s in this year’s title game to win the title on Sunday.
– Check out the latest Post Top 20 boys’ and girls’ basketball rankings.
– Chloe Jackson’s buzzer beater lifted Riverdale Baptist to a win against nationally ranked New Hope in the NACA girls’ basketball championship.
– Maret’s Austin Vereen has elevated his game during the postseason to help lead the Frogs to Thursday’s DCSAA final.
– Suitland’s first-round upset of defending Maryland 4A state champ Eleanor Roosevelt demonstrated how wide open this year’s playoffs truly are.
– West Potomac hired Jeremiah Ross as its new head football coach.
VIDEO OF THE DAY
[posttv url="http://www.washingtonpost.com/posttv/sports/top-basketball-plays-episode-12/2014/03/03/77634aae-a2f9-11e3-b865-38b254d92063_video.html" ]
WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY
Ice and more postponements
With the lingering snow and freezing overnight temperatures again closing most schools today, the Maryland basketball playoffs have been pushed back another day. All area Maryland school districts had canceled school Tuesday by Monday night with the exception of Howard County… who followed suit this morning. Click here and stay tuned to allmetsports.com to see when the rescheduled games will take place. Be careful out there!