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Dunbar football coach Lawrence Smith knew this was coming.

After leading the Poets to the 1A state championship last fall, Smith knew the college recruiters would come calling for his players. But did he know it would be this crazy?

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"My phone bill's been off the hook with these coaches calling," Smith said.

Of course the main attraction to Dunbar has been running back Tavon Austin, The Sun's All-Metro offensive player of the year.

Busy spring for Dunbar football recruits

Dunbar football coach and police officer Lawrence Smith sifts through recruiting mail with Tavon Austin last October / Sun photo by Lloyd Fox

According to Smith, Austin has picked up scholarship offers from Maryland, Boston College, Rutgers, Virginia, West Virginia, Syracuse, Penn State, Illinois and South Carolina.

Austin's been to Junior Day events at Maryland, Penn State and West Virginia, but Smith says he's not close to making a decision.

"Not 'till next year," Smith said of Austin's timeline for picking a school. "His mom's looking at every school closely and they'll go from there."

Handling the recruiting process has been a new experience for Smith, who replaced legendary Poets coach Ben Eaton after his untimely death last August. For Smith, two things have made coordinating recruiting for his players easier.

"Tavon's really been opening up the doors for a lot of the other guys," Smith said. "I've also been consulting Bob Wade a lot. He's really helped me out a lot with this process. He's really helped me out. But Tavon is an All-American, and like I said, Tavon's opening doors to see other guys. Coaches, they look at his film and are like, 'Whoa, who are these other guys?'"

Some of the other guys include wide receiver Sean Farr, quarterback Jonathan Perry, linebacker Tevin Brown and linebacker Gary Onuekwusi. All are juniors, each receiving DI interest.

Farr could be the next Poet to receive an offer.

"He hasn't received an official offer yet, but he's getting highly recruited by Virginia, Maryland and Syracuse," Smith said.

There had been some talk that Perry could be brought in as an 'athlete' recruit, but Smith said all the talk from college coaches has been for the quarterback position.

"He's had high recruiting interest from West Virginia," Smith said. "He visited them for their Junior Day. Maryland has high interest in Jonathan, and also Syracuse."

As for the two linebackers, Brown has visited West Virginia and Maryland and has been receiving interest from Syracuse, while Onuekwusi is hearing from Maryland, Syracuse and James Madison.

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"There's been really close interest in all these guys," Smith said. "[Coaches have] told me after spring ball that a lot of these guys will probably be receiving offers."

Until then, Smith will keep sending out film to schools, prepping for next season in hopes of defending Dunbar's crown, and undoubtedly watching his phone bill continue to rise.

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