Jerry Rice. Andre Rison. Gary Clark. Andre Reed. Michael Irvin. They are among the finest receivers in the NFL and the favorites of many on the high school level.
But if you ask Ronald Owens of Mervo of his favorite, the answer may be a little surprising.
"Calvin Williams is definitely my favorite," he said. "He's a sure-handed receiver, and that's the way I want to be."
Williams, a starting receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, is one of the reasons they are off to a 4-0 start, their best since the 1980 season when they reached the Super Bowl. Williams has 10 receptions for 154 yards and three touchdowns.
It's no coincidence that Williams, a graduate of Dunbar, is Owens' mentor because they are first cousins. And Owens rapidly is making a name for himself in the Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference.
He's one of the area's top two-way performers, leading in receptions (26), yards (505), touchdowns (six) and, for good measure, in interceptions with 10 from the safety position.
"I was just hoping to have a good season," said Owens, a 5-foot-11 senior. "A lot of hard work has gone into it, and I just want to keep it up."
Owens likes playing at wide-out. His frame gives him an advantage in reaching for balls over defenders, and he has a good instinct for the ball.
"From day one from when he was on the junior varsity, I noticed he had exceptional hands," Mervo coach John Blake said. "He just has that ability to go after the ball. It doesn't look like he's running very fast, but once the ball is in the air, he has quickness to it."
Upon his promotion from the junior varsity after his sophomore season when he was a running back, Owens was placed as the feature receiver in Mervo's pro-set offense. The basic set-up spreads out the offense and gives each receiver isolation with the corner back.
And despite facing double and triple coverages for most of the season, Owens still has been able to account for six of Mervo's nine touchdowns. Against Walbrook on Sept. 18, he caught three touchdown passes in the first quarter and finished with four catches for 131 yards.
"He's just outstanding," said Roger Wrenn, head coach of B Conference rival Patterson. "It doesn't matter how you defense him, he's going to get his numbers. You just try to contain him and don't let the others hurt you."
Last summer, Owens attended Shippensburg (Pa.) University's football camp and was named the outstanding player after catching two touchdowns in the final game.
"During summer camp [at Mervo] four years ago, everything we threw his way he caught it," said Blake. "He was very attentive to all details. Kids have a way of standing out and you can see those who can and want to play."
With his talents and the success of Williams, Owens doesn't feel any pressure. Williams was a first-team all-Metro selection by The Sun from Dunbar in 1984 and a three-year starter at Purdue University before being chosen in the fifth round of the 1990 draft by the Eagles.
"That is really more of a benefit than a negative," Owens said. "When I see him out there playing, it just gives me the incentive to do the same thing."
Owens has been to Veterans Stadium only once to see Williams play (last season against the Phoenix Cardinals), but he talks to him after each Eagles game because Williams still resides here.
"He always tells me to keep speed up and play hard every time out," Owens said. "The main thing is just do the best you can. I don't try to emulate his moves except the ones that produce touchdowns."
Owens is very quiet and unassuming off the field and lets his performance on the field do the speaking.
"We tried to put him out front and get him to say and do things, but basically he is a quiet leader," Blake said. "Everybody recognized that this is his senior season and he's the captain of the club."
Not to mention Calvin Williams' biggest supporter.