Off to Howard
St. Charles’ Stewart-Dinkins, Stone’s Gray off to Howard
A pair of football players from Charles County schools had National Signing Day all to themselves on Wednesday morning at their respective schools when both St. Charles High School senior Saevon Stewart-Dinkins and Thomas Stone High School Taejon Gray signed their national letter of intent to attend Howard University this fall.
Stewart-Dinkins, who signed before school started
Wednesday morning, had the most circuitous route to Howard.
Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, Stewart-Dinkins relocated to Waldorf in 2016 and spent his senior season as a twoway lineman for the Spar- tans. Stewart-Dinkins, who plans to major in business management at Howard, admits there are few differences between his former hometown and his new one.
“People think that Alas- ka is a frozen, bare place, but really Anchorage is a lot like Waldorf,” Stew- art-Dinkins said. “There are a lot of things to do. The football there is pret- ty much the same as well. They don’t focus as much on technique as they do down here. But my senior year at St. Charles was great. I learned a lot from coach Williams.”
Although Stewart-Din- kins was new to the program last fall, St. Charles third-year head coach Avery Williams admitted that the two-way lineman made his presence known on both sides of the scrimmage. While Stew- art-Dinkins was the lone Spartans player to sign on Wednesday, Williams ad- mitted that there could be another half-dozen slated to sign in early March.
“Saevon brought a great work ethic to the team,” Williams said. “He was willing to play on both sides of the line and he really did a lot of good things. He was also an excellent student. Even though it was his first year with me, I could tell that he was a high character kid. He bought into every- thing that we were doing on both sides of the ball and Howard is getting an excellent player and hard worker.”
While Stewart-Dinkins signed at the break of dawn at St. Charles, hours later Gray signed among family, friends and Cougars teammates in the media center at Thomas Stone, several already donning Howard Bison shirts. Like Stewart-Din- kins, Gray is also headed to Howard this fall and the versatile player, viewed as one of the quiet senior leaders on the team, ad- mitted the day was more about his education than his athleticism.
“For me, the best part is knowing that I can play football and get an educa- tion somewhere close to home and that football is paying for my education,” said Gray, who plans to major in either engineer- ing or business. “I really wanted to go to a school close to home where I could have a chance of get- ting on the field right away and get a free education.”
Thomas Stone first-year head coach Danny Rip- ple was pleased to see Gray sign with Howard. As the Cougars rookie coach, Ripple gained an immediate appreciation for everything that Gray could bring to the team on both sides of the ball and he even recalled one play that the Cougars’ two-way player made against his team while he was still an assistant coach at Calvert.
“One thing about Taejon that always impressed me was his versatility,” Ripple said. “He played a verity of roles for us this season. He never gave up on a play. He made a great running tackle and strip to preserve our shutout win against Westlake. I think that play impressed a lot of people. There was one play when I was at Calvert that stood out. We ran a sweep with two of our best players and he split two of our blockers to tackle our running back for a sixyard loss.”
Stewart-Dinkins and Gray admitted that one primary draw was the selection of Mike London as the new head football coach at Howard. Stewart-Dinkins also had offers from Bryant University (R.I.) and Shepherd University (W.Va.), while Gray had made unofficial visits to Wake Forest, the University of Maryland and Temple before opting for Howard.
St. Charles High School senior Saevon Stewart-Dinkins signs his National Letter of Intent to attend Howard University on Wednesday morning. Stewart-Dinkins was a solid two-way lineman for the Spartans in his first season with the school.
Thomas Stone High School senior Taejon Gray signed his National Letter of Intent to attend Howard University on Wednesday morning. Sitting, from left, are Gray’s mother Twynisha Pittman, Taejon Gray and Thomas Stone head football coach Danny Ripple. Standing are Thomas Stone Principal Crystal Benson, left, and athletic director Brad Criss.