Commentary

Poe is Maryland's first All-American

Updated: August 7, 2009, 9:49 PM ET
By Sheldon Shealer | ESPNRISE.com

Edgar Allan Poe was the first Marylander named a college football All-American.

Princeton AA Edgar Allan Poe
Princeton University ArchivesPoe was Maryland's first All-American.
Not that Edgar Allan Poe.

This Poe, then the quarterback of Princeton and second nephew of his more famous namesake, made the 1889 College Football All-America team in the first year of All-America selections. Poe's honor came 119 years prior to Maryland's most recent first-team All-American, Elliott City's Aaron Maybin, who played for Penn State last season.

Poe was captain of the 1889 and 1890 Princeton squads, leading the program to a 21-1-1 record. The team's only loss during that stretch was a season-ending setback to Yale in 1890, Poe's final contest. The Baltimore native's All-America honor was bestowed in 1889 following Princeton's 10-0 season. He was not a repeat All-America in 1890, despite the team's 11-1-1 showing.

Edgar Allan Poe, the famous author, died in 1849. His cousin, John Prentiss Poe, named the second of his six sons in the author's memory. All six sons played football at Princeton in the years between 1882 and 1901. Edgar, a Class of 1891 graduate, and Arthur Poe, Class of 1900, were All-America selections.

There are no records of the Poe brothers playing high school football, which was not uncommon for the day. During the late 1800s, most athletes' first exposure to the sport was in college.

Poe, the football player, was born in 1871. He later became attorney general in Maryland from 1911 to 1915. He died Nov. 29, 1961, at the age of 90.

Aaron Maybin
Ned Dishman/Getty ImagesMaybin played high school football at Mount Hebron.
The first college All-America team was selected by Caspar Whitney, one of the nation's foremost football journalist of the time, who was writing for Harper's Magazine. Whitney named All-America teams from 1889 through 1891, then teamed with legendary Yale coach Walter Camp in 1892 to create the Walter Camp All-America team, which continues today. Whitney was involved in college football All-America selections until his death in 1929.

There are no statistical records of Poe's play at Princeton. During the 1880s, football resembled rugby more than today's modern game, with no passing and mostly scrum-like advances of the ball.

One often-told story suggests that following Princeton's 41-15 win over Harvard in 1889, a Harvard man asked a Princeton alumnus if Poe was related to the great author. The alumunus, according to the legend, "looked at him in astonishment and replied, 'He is the great Edgar Allan Poe.'"

Sheldon Shealer is a senior editor with ESPNRISE.com and has covered high school football in Maryland for more than 20 years. Sheldon can be reached at Sheldon.Shealer@espn.com