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Friday, September 6, 2013

Brandon Coleman, Lorenzo Waters' road from Accokeek, Md., to Rutgers, Part 2

Bryce Bevill, now in student-athlete development at Maryland, was Brandon Coleman's coach at Bishop McNamara. When Coleman mulls the NFL, Bevill will be involved. (Tyler Barto)

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

Part 1 — Part 3

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The remnants of Coleman’s legend are now rooted in a small corner office at Maryland’s football facility in College Park.

Bryce Bevill, Brandon Coleman’s coach at McNamara, sits there, wearing a black Terrapins polo, slacks and black dress shoes. He recalls stories that are equal parts tall tales and rooted in truth.

“We’re timing the guys in the 40, and Brandon runs a low 4.6, high 4.5,” Bevill said of Coleman’s sophomore year. “The unique thing about thing about it was he ran it in like 16, 17 steps.”

A Pop Warner coach on Bevill’s staff tipped him on Coleman, who by that point was already 6-foot-1 in eighth grade. Bevill was sold.

The tough part would be selling Coleman.

“Of course DeMatha was on ESPN,” McNamara president Marco Clark said. “That makes it tough from a recruiting standpoint. It makes it tough when a 13-year-old boy looks and sees, ‘Oh, I get the opportunity to play on national TV.’

Said Bevill: “If I heard about him, I know DeMatha’s heard about him.”

Coleman stuck with McNamara, arguably its biggest coup in recent memory. With Coleman at receiver as a senior, McNamara breezed through one of its best seasons to date.

He added four inches to his frame that year. Tales of his play grew with it.

“We put him back at safety, and dagnabit he was a very, very good safety. We were playing Cover 3, and Brandon was in the deep middle,” Bevill said of the St. Albans game. “The quarterback is scrambling and Brandon comes out of the deep middle and literally in four steps he covered about 25 yards. … It’s just something you couldn’t coach.”

Seven games later, Coleman would line up against Waters, whom he says he met for the first time as a junior.

McNamara was 8-1. DeMatha hadn’t lost yet.

Neither would forget what happened next.

Prominent DeMatha alums, like the Dolphins' Cameron Wake, drape the school's new weight room facility. 
(Tyler Barto)
In Prince George’s County, all roads lead back to DeMatha.

The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference power has ruled the roost for more than three decades. Its sprawling Hyattsville campus — complete with a new convocation center that doubles as its basketball arena — is proof.

Bevill, McNamara’s former coach, played running back and was an assistant there. Clark, McNamara’s president, coached defense under famed Bill McGregor.

“DeMatha’s been known for athletics for years and years and years,” said Bevill, a DeMatha assistant when current coach Elijah Brooks was a running back there. “Morgan Wootten is a name that’s synonymous with basketball. … A lot of guys went to DeMatha to play basketball. (The key was) getting those guys to understand your future is not in basketball, but you can play the game of football and get a free ride.”

Locals pine for an opportunity to play there. Few times does DeMatha go knocking. When it did in fall 2005, it wasn’t for Lorenzo Waters.

DeMatha coach Elijah Brooks, an alum, often tested
Lorenzo Waters in practice. (The Gazette)
A freshman assistant named Lawrence Waters — no relation — was in nearby Laurel to scout Beltway League players Arie and Cyrus Kouandijo. They now occupy the left side of Alabama’s offensive line. Cyrus is a likely top pick should he leave Tuscaloosa, Ala., after this season.

Yet Lawrence Waters left raving about this unknown player. And DeMatha wouldn’t leave without him.

“Coach Waters tells that story all the time,” Brooks said. “(Lorenzo) was dominating, killing.”

Lorenzo Waters moved quickly through the ranks at DeMatha, gaining attention on a team with players destined for Iowa and the SEC, among other stops. But it didn’t come without sacrifice.

Long drives dotted Waters’ schedule. He woke up each morning at 5:30 to give himself enough time to make the 30-mile trip to DeMatha.

"It's far. They were rough — every morning, waking … just so I can get there and sit in D.C. traffic,” Waters said. “Sometimes it took over an hour to get to school.”

The player teammates called “Striker ’Zo” wasn’t immune to legend, either.

["A lot of guys went to DeMatha to play basketball. (The key was) getting those guys to understand ... you can play ... football and get a free ride." — Bryce Bevill]

Brooks, a running backs coach at the time, often chided Waters, one of DeMatha’s best defensive players, telling him he couldn’t match up with opposing backs. When it happened again as a junior, Waters told Brooks he’d knock the helmet off a running back from rival Gonzaga.

“I told him, ‘Listen, man. There’s no way in the world you’ll be able to do something like that,’” Brooks said. “And sure enough, the kid ran an iso and (Waters) filled from the safety position. And he knocked his helmet off and he pointed at me on the sidelines. There was nothing I could say, (but) give him his props.”

DeMatha beat Gonzaga, 35-6.

Waters would meet a far more imposing match in 2009 at Bishop McNamara.

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