Red Lion High School football coach Pat Conrad had to keep the news quiet for about a week.
One of his former players, Andrew Zeller, contacted Conrad in the final week of September to let him in on a secret that wasn't yet made public. Zeller, a redshirt freshman at the University of Maryland, had earned a starting job along the offensive line.
"He told me before they (the Maryland football program) told anyone else," Conrad said. "I had to stay quiet for almost a week. They had a bye week coming up and he wanted to come home and tell his parents the news before anyone else found out."
Zeller's promotion didn't surprise Conrad. Just days before Zeller got in touch with him, Maryland tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator John Dunn had stopped by Red Lion.
"Coach Dunn recruits our area. He came up on the Monday following the game against West Virginia," Conrad said. "Dunn said they're really impressed with Andrew and they like what they saw from him. His work ethic is great."
Winning the job: By then, word had already spread about the play against West Virginia that possibly earned Zeller a starting gig.
It came in the fourth quarter when Terps' receiver Stefon Diggs took in a pass on the far sideline. Zeller, following the ball the whole way from his right guard position, naturally started running upfield to set up a block for Diggs. The 6-foot, 6-inch, 295-pound lineman dove at the legs of a West Virginia defender. Two other Mountaineers fell over Zeller's legs, which helped spring Diggs for a 56-yard score.
"Right away on the sideline everyone was congratulating me," Zeller said by phone Wednesday afternoon. "I didn't know I took out three guys. I thought I took out one guy. I hustled down the field. That's what Coach (Randy Edsall) preaches, hustle after the pass is thrown."
Zeller made his first start of his collegiate career this past Saturday in Maryland's 19-14 win over Wake Forest. He was part of a shakeup along the Terps' O-line that included Zeller and true freshman left tackle Mike Madaras moving ahead of two juniors.
"They are only going to get better," Edsall, a Susquehannock High School graduate, said about Zeller and Madaras in his Oct. 2 press conference. "If you take a look at them, one is a true freshman and one is a redshirt freshman. But, they are athletic, they play with a physical toughness and they are guys who play to the whistle."
Improvements: The moves might have also been made after Maryland quarterback Perry Hills had been sacked 16 times through the Terps' first four games, which was the second-most in the nation at that point.
Maryland (3-2 overall, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) bounced back from a three-point loss to Connecticut and a 10-point loss to No. 10 West Virginia with the victory over Wake Forest last Saturday. The Terps' allowed three sacks to the Demon Deacons. It's an area Zeller said the O-line unit is trying to improve on going into the Terps' game Saturday at conference foe Virginia.
"We're seeing more communication. That's a big thing up front," he said. "The group of us will mesh. That's something we've been trying to work on."
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.