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February 2, 2008

Terps commit Kerr hopes to make the grade

Two years ago, it appeared uncertain whether Quince Orchard defensive tackle and new Terps commitment Zach Kerr would have a chance to play college football.

After a disappointing freshman year of high school in the classroom, Kerr was ruled academically ineligible as a sophomore.

“It was no football whatsoever,” Kerr said. “I could’ve been around it, but to me, I really didn’t want to be around it not being able to play. I didn’t want to sit around just looking at other people playing football. Sophomore year was when I really realized I missed football. I took it for granted.”

Kerr, 6 feet 2, 320 pounds, took the time away from the game to improve his grades, ensuring a return to the field as a junior. If there was a silver lining to this sophomore-year hiatus, it was that it reenergized Kerr and showed him how much he had to lose.

“As soon as I realized I could get a scholarship to play Division I football and get a degree from a really good school, I thought, ‘this is my chance, I’ve gotta run with it.’”

According to Quince Orchard head coach Dave Mencarini, Kerr immediately took advantage of his return to the gridiron as a junior. He ‘dominated,’ Mencarini said, which led to constant double-teams and somewhat modest numbers (40 tackles, four for loss, three sacks) as a senior. But Kerr was an integral part of Quince Orchard’s undefeated, 4A state championship season as a senior. And he flashed plenty of promise throughout those final two high school seasons.

“He is a player with unlimited potential,” Mencarini said. “He’s a kid that could easily be a first-round NFL draft pick and I’m not just blowing smoke. But he’s also a kid that has a lot of work to do to get to that point. Getting him through those tough parts that lie ahead is what’s going to be the challenge.”

The first step in that challenge is becoming academically qualified. His freshman year academic performance dug a significant hole. Now Kerr is focused on improving his grades, optimistically awaiting his latest SAT results and signing up for every ACT and SAT from now until the summer.

Kerr credits his mother and Mencarini for their no-nonsense approach with him. He also said that attitude was one of the reasons he was drawn to play for Ralph Friedgen. Now it's on Kerr to take that tough love, follow through in the classroom, and make it to College Park.

“It feels like I just got a ton lifted off my shoulders with everything," Kerr said of his commitment. "Now I can just sit back and focus on my school. 100 percent school. It feels good knowing I‘ll be here the next four years with a lot of support.”

Click here for 'Meet the recruit' with Zach Kerr.

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:00 AM | | Comments (0)
        

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About Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

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