ONE OPPORTUNITY can change a life.
Martin Luther King senior Dontae Angus seized his and now the 6-6, 320-pound offensive/defensive lineman who has committed to the University of Florida knows his life could be changed forever.
"I can do big things with my life," Angus said just before practice yesterday. "I can go to the NFL. But even if I don't make it to the 'League,' I want to major in architecture. I'll get a free education, play the sport I love and go to college."
Football was once an afterthought for Angus, 18, who lives on Pennhurst Street with his mother, Jounieta Williams, 41.
He didn't even know much about the game growing up. In fact, his father, Delroy Angus, wouldn't let Dontae play because one of Dontae's brothers sustained a head injury playing flag football.
And although he coveted Florida once the recruiting process began, Angus knew little of the program's history or the Southeastern Conference's reputation as a power.
Angus, who is also an artist and avid bike rider, played football only after frequent prodding from people telling him, "You should use your size in sports."
It wasn't a smooth transition on or off the field.
After leaving Olney High School sophomore year after a classmate pulled a gun on him, Angus attended George Washington briefly before landing at now-closed Germantown.
At Washington, Angus learned of Sharrif Floyd, a player who is now a defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings.
Floyd survived a tumultuous childhood to earn a scholarship to Florida, where he became an All-America.
"If he can do it then I can do it," Angus said. "And he had it way harder than how I'm struggling right now."
Now, Angus said his attention is solely on school and football. King will face Franklin in the Public League AAA semifinals on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Cougars beat Franklin, 30-14, last week.
Academically, Angus is still awaiting SAT scores from the test he took in October. He admits poor grades at Germantown were born from a lack of effort.
"Back then I was a very lazy person," he said. "I'm not lazy like I used to be."
The King coaching staff, he said, has been instrumental in his improvement on the field and in the classroom.
Kelly Cottle, King's recruiting liaison, was at Germantown with Angus and said he would help with college. It was a promise, Angus said, that was made and left unfulfilled by others.
Cottle, who tutors Angus in math, sent highlight tapes to prospective colleges, including Florida, which showed interest.
"Coach Cottle did everything he said he would," Angus said. "He's a man of his word."
Now, Angus is on the cusp of a family milestone.
"I really feel good because I'll be the first in my family to actually go to college."
Archbishop Carroll's Austin Tilghman rushed for a school- record 374 yards and five touchdowns last week in a 49-30 win over Bishop McDevitt. That effort is the fourth-best in city-leagues history. Even more amazing is that Tilghman said he sprained his ankle late in the fourth quarter and didn't return . . . Father Judge senior Matt Cunningham blocked a punt that fellow senior Jim Galasso returned for a touchdown in a 10-7 win over Roman Catholic . . . Southern earned its first postseason win since 1965 with a 50-14 whooping of Samuel Fels in the first round of the Pub AAAA playoffs Friday.
On Twitter: @AceCarterDN