Anne Arundel County has always been known as a hotbed for collegiate lacrosse recruiters.
Now, in addition to lacrosse recruiters, national collegiate football powerhouses have discovered future football stars in Anne Arundel.
In the last few football seasons, Archbishop Spalding has sent many football players to major colleges including Maryland, Penn State and Virginia Tech.
Currently, the Cavaliers boast of having two rising players who have attracted prestigious perennial powerhouses in senior linebacker Keyshawn Flowers and junior quarterback Malik Washington.
Spalding is coming off winning the MIAA A Division championship. Additionally, playing a competitive regional schedule has placed the spotlight on their program with national recruiters. Programs from the Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and Big Ten have all contacted head coach Kyle Schmitt since that championship game.
It was in the MIAA championship game that Flowers became a revelation to recruiters as he repeatedly was in Calvert Hall’s backfield and disrupted any offensive rhythm that the Cardinals were trying to establish.
Since then, Flowers has been inundated with messages from colleges including the University of Miami, Notre Dame, USC, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Maryland.
“It’s a blessing and humbling to be recruited by so many great schools,” Flowers said. “But I know I have plenty of work to do.”
Flowers also said he’s his own biggest critic and is out to prove something this season.
“My defensive coordinator, Tyrone Forby, hopes I choose a college before the season and that will be a big weight off my shoulders,” Flowers said.
Washington, Flowers' teammate and rising junior quarterback prospect, has heard from numerous football powerhouses, but Washington’s official recruiting doesn’t start until September 1.
“Our first game is August 25, so I’ll get one game under my belt before the colleges really begin the recruiting process,” Washington said.
That process, according to many local coaches and players, is an intense one.
“September 1 is a stressful day, and for the coaches, it’s one of the toughest days as you begin to have an avalanche of emails and texts,” said Broadneck High School girls lacrosse coach Katy Kelley. “I’ve received over 50 emails in a week regarding my players. As a coach, you really need to sit down with the players and provide realistic expectations of this rigorous process.”
Severn School’s lacrosse coach Kathy Rudkin described it as “pretty crazy.”
“I was recruited as a three-sport athlete, so I can provide my players some insight and guidance on how to handle the outpouring of information.”
Most coaches will inform their players to choose a college that the player would be comfortable at without athletics, as well as be at ease with the size of the campus, location, and if the school’s academics are aligned with the player’s future goals.
Recruiting for lacrosse and other sports are different from football due to the exposure of club teams during the summer. College coaches have more time to recruit during that time and invite players to their camps and visit their club teams.
“Football is probably the only sport that the college coaches still have to go through the high school coaches to set up visits and gain valuable information on the player,” Schmitt said. “The weeks and days prior to December’s National Signing Day, I’ll have 16 or 17 coaches per day come in and want to speak with my players.”
Schmitt, who was recruited by colleges as an offensive lineman before he chose Maryland, acts as a guide to his players and guards against overexposure from college coaches.
Schmitt will also evaluate the college recruiters when they come onto Spalding’s campus and make sure they are honest, trustworthy and respectful of his player’s time.
Also new to college recruiting is the Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) practices. NIL is where college athletes can receive compensation when their name, image and likeness are used in marketing and outreach efforts.
“I think NIL will play a role in recruiting, but it is evolving on a daily basis,” Schmitt said. “I advise my players to choose a college that meets you and your family’s criteria. I still believe that location is one of the main drivers in many of those decisions.”
Schmitt and his assistant coaches have dramatically improved Spalding’s football program to one that has received national exposure, and Washington aims to receive a multitude of offers.
Washington is an athletic 6-foot-4-inch quarterback with a rocket arm. He is also a standout basketball player.
“We as coaches make sure the players have all the information they need,” Schmitt said. “It’s not my college experience, and I had my recruiting process 23 years ago. Recruiting has dramatically changed in that time period.”
Washington and Flowers will continue to visit campuses in the next few months.
As to Washington’s plans on September 1, “I think I will turn off my phone and just get back to everyone the next day,” Washington said.