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Before lacing up shoes, Smith gets Terps' OK

December 19, 2006 12:50 am


Torrey Smith made his first real grown-up decision earlier this year when he accepted a football scholarship from the University of Maryland.

No. 2 was more difficult.

Smith, a three-year starter for Stafford High School's basketball team, wanted to suit up for his final year on the hardwood. But he didn't want to do anything that would jeopardize his scholarship, which will be worth approximately $100,000 if he stays at Maryland for four years.

So instead of bearing the burden of such a weighty decision, Smith did the wise thing: He sought advice from the people he respects and trusts.

He talked to his mother and his high school football coach. He called Maryland's recruiting coordinator, then had a chat with the Terps' head coach. Finally, after receiving the necessary assurances from Ralph Friedgen, Smith met with Stafford boys basketball coach Steve Spicer and told him he was ready to reclaim his spot on the Indians' varsity.

First, however, Smith wanted to clear the decision with a few other important people--his teammates.

"They all worked hard last summer when I was getting ready for the football season. I told them if there was a problem, I wouldn't play," Smith said.

The opportunity to add a gifted athlete like Smith was a no-brainer for his teammates, who welcomed him with open arms. Ditto for Spicer, who has become flexible enough over the course of a 38-year coaching career to look past the fact that Smith missed the first three weeks of Stafford's season.

When Smith informed Spicer that both his mom and Maryland's football coaches supported his decision to play basketball, it was a done deal.

"Knowing how hard he's worked for this opportunity, I never would've talked to him," Spicer said. "I would've felt terrible if something had happened to him."

Spicer's concern wasn't unreasonable. Smith suffered a broken right leg during a summer league basketball game before his junior year and missed Stafford's first three football games in 2005.

Smith sustained a sprained right ankle in a football game against Colonial Forge this season, further aggravated the injury seven days later against North Stafford and hadn't done much running before he joined the basketball team last Monday.

Still, he scored seven points and provided a lift with his defense in Stafford's 58-50 victory over Mountain View on Friday, just his second game of the 2006-07 season.

"I don't want to be fearful of anything," Smith said. "I'm going to go full steam ahead and play the game. That's part of being a competitor."

Stafford football coach Chad Lewis believes Smith is less likely to be injured playing organized basketball for Spicer than if he were playing in pickup games after school all winter.

"Torrey's been playing basketball a long time. This is really his last opportunity to play team basketball," Lewis added. "There's work that has to be done in the weight room before he goes to Maryland, but Torrey's a very mature young man. He's able to do both."

Wildcats make mark

One year after it placed 19th at the Midwest Classic, Mountain View's wrestling team returned to Columbus, Ohio, last weekend and posted a sixth-place finish.

Eight Wildcats survived five rounds of pool bouts on Friday to earn berths in Saturday's championship bracket. Conor Black led Mountain View by placing second in the 152-pound weight class, while teammate A.J. Fernow was third at 160.

Three Wildcats--Ethan Carmody (125), Eddie Babineau (135) and Jim Leonard (285)-- finished fifth in their respective classes. Three others--Kevin Maenz (112), Shane Black (145) and Nick Perelli (215)--claimed seventh place.

Mountain View returns to the mat Thursday when it hosts Massaponax in a Commonwealth District dual match.

Marines sponsoring event

The United States Marine Corps has signed on as title sponsor of Colonial Forge's Ultimate Challenge wrestling tournament, which will be held Jan. 27, 2007.

The event will be a sneak preview of the Group AAA championships, with defending state champion Great Bridge, Kellam and Cox slated to join host Colonial Forge in the tournament field.

Other schools scheduled to compete are: Hayfield, James River, Gar-Field, Chantilly and

Forest Park, as well as Maryland private-school powerhouse Mount Saint Joseph.

To reach JIM McCONNELL: 540/374-5444

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