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Friday, June 26, 2009
Stephen uses his wits to outsmart opponents

By Mike Loveday
ESPNRISE.com

Mac Stephen has not always been one of the biggest guys on the team, but odds are that he has always been one of the smartest.

Stephen Mac
Stephen's intelligence and ability to play center give him plenty of college options.

The 6-foot-4, 250-pound center on the Frederick (Md.) football squad maintains a 3.9 GPA (he only just received his first B) and is receiving interest from a variety of schools, including the Ivy League.

Stephen's smarts helped him when he first made the jump to the varsity team during his sophomore season.

"Being the smallest guy on the line and having to fight through that you're forced to learn technique," Stephen said. "Going to high school against bigger guys, you're actually learning how to play. You're not just going up and blocking like they tell you to do in miniature football."

Stephen earned to starting center job as a sophomore, but according to head coach Vince Ahearn, Stephen is athletic enough to play either center or guard in college.

"He's got the D-I guys looking," Ahearn said. "West Virginia, Syracuse and North Carolina -- all of these guys want him in their camp."

Ahearn said that while Stephen is athletic enough to play guard in college, his size and intelligence are well suited to center.

"If you look at his frame, he's long and lanky. The fact that he's 6-4 and can [play] center -- those guys out in D-I land -- 6-4 is short. You need to be 6-5 [or more]," Ahearn said. "At center you can get away with someone shorter. 6-4 and being able to play center is just another skill set that makes him more marketable."

Stephen was one of several key members of Frederick's football team who suffered injuries last season. He tore his meniscus during the Week 3 game. But now the injury is healed, and Stephen is preparing for his senior season.

If his performance at the 2009 Nike Baltimore Combine is any indication, Stephen could be a breakout performer this season.

The rising senior had the best kneeling power ball toss of the more than 1,500 athletes in attendance -- throwing it 42 1/2 feet.

Stephen also showed good explosion with a 27.5-inch vertical jump and a 4.99 shuttle run. Overall, Stephen posted a SPARQ Rating* of 78.87.

*The SPARQ Rating combines an athlete's scores in the 40-yard dash, shuttle run, vertical jump and kneeling power ball into a single number.

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Mike Loveday covers high school sports for ESPNRISE.com. Mike can be reached at Michael.Loveday@espn.com