Off to Howard

St. Charles’ Ste­wart-Dink­ins, Stone’s Gray off to Howard

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­

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.

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