|School:||Columbia, Md. (DeMatha HS)|
After a season in which he caught 38 passes for 778 yards and 8 touchdowns, DeMatha HS's Derrick McPhearson certainly lived up to his lofty ranking as TheInsiders' #9 overall wide receiver. A member of the Washington Post's All-Met team, Derrick, who helped lead DeMatha to an undefeated season, received 19 scholarship offers this season, but now he's down to his final four--Maryland, Florida, Virginia Tech, and Penn State.
"Those are the schools that I plan on taking visits to. I took one to Maryland on December 5th. I have one set up for Florida on January 16th. I'm going to set up (Virginia) Tech and Penn State," said Derrick, who debunked the rumor he was going to Penn State on the 16th of January. Currently, Maryland is the only school that Derrick has ever been to from his top four.
Although Derrick claims to have no leader from the bunch, all the schools have a connection that could seemingly push Derrick their way.
Derrick's older brother Gerrick is a redshirt sophomore cornerback at Maryland. Does that give the Terps an advantage over everyone else?
"I guess in a way. Every younger brother wants to be his older brother, so I guess that's a big advantage the University (of Maryland) has over everybody else," said Derrick, who admitted they have talked about playing together. "We talk about it in fun, but he'll support me wherever I go. Whatever happens, happens I guess."
A former Maryland assistant football coach, Mike Locksley, is very familiar with the McPhearson family.
"Those guys down there (at Florida), they call Coach Locksley my cousin. He was recruiting me at Maryland and he's trying to take me along to Florida," explained Derrick, who is not related to Coach Locksley. "It's just a fun-type thing."
A major player in the Maryland/Washington, DC. area, Virginia Tech has numerous ties to DeMatha HS and Coach Bill McGregor.
"They just recruit guys from my school every year. A lot of alumni from Virginia Tech went to my school and some players from Virgina Tech went to my school. They've been in our system for awhile," said Derrick. "Coach Billy Hyte, who's recruiting me, is an alumni from my school."
The Nittany Lions, who recruited Derek Wake from DeMatha four years ago, actually have a connection to Derrick through a different of the Nittany Lion's Maryland natives.
"I have a friend that goes there. He went to my school that I transferred from, Howard HS, named Gerald Smith. I talk to him sometimes and he tells me good things about it," said Derrick. "He said it's a very family atmosphere as far as the people and things like that. It's nice. The facilities are great and he gets treated nicely. The football players are like brothers to him, the coaches are like family. He said it's a tight knit squad."
Although the Nittany Lions became involved with Derrick late, finally offering him in November, they stand a good chance to land the wide out because of depth issues at the position.
"They said they're in desperate need of a wideout, a big play receiver to stretch the field. They got a hold of my highlight tape and things went from there. It was kind of late in the process but we're all on the same page now," explained Derrick, who's being recruited by former Maryland native, Larry Johnson, Sr., whom he gets along with very well. "He's a good person, a very straight forward, honest guy. You feel like you can trust him. I liked that when I saw him."
The Nittany Lions have also been heavily involved with Derrick's teammate and friend, cornerback Dominic Berger. Like the situation with his brother, have he and Dominic ever had a conversation about attending the same school together?
"Kind of playing. We just play around with the thought of it. We never really take it seriously," Derrick admitted.
What are the characteristics that Derrick will need to see from his final four schools to finally give the university the edge over the other three?
"Academics--I want to major in Criminal Justice, so the school should have a great program. Athletically, the school has to help me develop as a receiver, getting me to the next level. As far as the university itself, I have to feel comfortable. Socially, the atmosphere at the university, I've got to like the people I'm surrounded by. Living conditions and those types of things will have a big effect on where I want to go. I mainly have to feel comfortable with where I'm going and have to be able to trust people," Derrick explained.
Has he done any research to get a feel for what all of the school's have to offer him?
"I have. All the schools, right now, have pretty decent Criminal Justice programs. They have great facilities for that. I've seen Maryland's and they have a state of the art Criminal Justice lab, so I can't wait to see the other schools."
Derrick emphasized that he will take trips to all four schools in his final four, despite not having visits yet set for either Virginia Tech or Penn State. He admitted that it's important for him to have the ability to compare different places to each other, so that he can make the decision that is truly best for him.
"It's a matter of me going and seeing where I fit in and seeing how I like the university," Derrick emphasized.
(Interview by Steve Curry)