CAPTION: Adrian Moten, Rashad Carmichael and Phil Taylor (l-r), were all coached by Coach Danny Hayes(kneeling).
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md.—A small high school in Prince George’s County has earned a particular distinction in scholastic sports.
Three Gwynn Park High School alumni are the first three players from the same high school slated to enter the NFL in the same year.
With Phil Taylor, Rashad Carmichael and Adrian Moten, all defensive hit men, joining the ranks of the pros, Gwynn Park may soon be able to boast of eight current players in the National Football League.
Taylor, Carmichael and Moten were more than just classmates; they were close friends for years and did just about everything together, including attending church services.
Gwynn Park Coach Danny Hayes’ winning program lured the trio to the 2A high school and the youths were exposed to a winning tradition immediately.
The Yellow Jackets lost just four games in three years, including back-to-back undefeated regular seasons. In 2005, the school went 14-0 and won the state championship at Ravens Stadium – the home of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.
Many college recruiters considered Taylor the strongest Division I, which often allows recruits to get extra consideration when they are looking over programs.
Taylor suggested the Division One schools consider a package deal, taking him and his friends.
At a one-day camp at Virginia Tech, the Hokies took the bait and signed Carmichael to a scholarship.
“I got this opportunity because of Phil,” Carmichael said at Gwynn Park, where the three players had a brief union, “and I’m going to keep on hanging with him.”
Taylor said he learned early on the importance of having a plan.
“Coach Hayes had a set standard, in what we needed to do, to be successful. If you followed that blueprint, you’ll get there,” said Taylor, who was drafted by the Cleveland Browns.
The 6 foot 5, 240 pound defensive tackle, played two years at Penn State, then transferred to Baylor University. At Baylor, Taylor made All Big 12 honors, played in the university’s first bowl game, in 17 years, and started in the senior bowl.
He also graduated May 14 with a degree in criminal justice.
“Taylor is focused, determined, he has a great work ethic and he wants to be the best,” said Joe Haden, who owns Haden Sports and Performance in District Heights, Md., who trained Taylor last summer. In high school, Taylor played against Haden’s son, Joe, who was drafted last year by the Browns.
At their recent get-together, Taylor, Carmichael and Moten laughed and had recalled highlights and fun moments from their younger days.
“I have family and brothers, but from the eighth grade until college, we were together every day,” Carmichael said. “It feels good to be at Gwynn Park today.”
Carmichael said, he remembered when the now grassy field was all dirt and pointed to the bleacher section, where his father, Bernard Carmichael, Sr. and Phil Taylor, Sr., would observe practice.
Carmichael also remembered when the players walked through the gym door, holding hands before approaching the sidelines to start a game.
Instead of a rhythmic chant to pump up the team, Coach Hayes would say, “No Excuses,” and the team would shout, “ Do The Work!”
Carmichael’s father died in 2008 and he turned to his football family for comfort.
“The Taylor family gave me a lot of support,” he said.
At Virginia Tech, Carmichael, 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, started three years at cornerback, winning three ACC titles, and appearing in multiple bowl games. He earned Honorable Mention and All ACC honors. He also graduated with a degree in human development and said he would be as comfortable being a counselor as he would being a professional athlete.
He was drafted by the Houston Texans.
Carmichael made the four-hour drive from Blacksburg, Virginia to see his former teammates, his coach and his mother. As he and Taylor discussed their future plans, they were surprised to learn about the trendsetting moment they were setting, entering the league with Moten.
The pair shot hoops as they waited for Moten after his scheduled workout with former Maryland Terp, Vernon Davis, who now plays tight end for the San Francisco 49ers.
At 6-2, 228 pounds, Moten appeared in four post-season bowl appearances and had 205 career tackles at the University of Maryland. Moten received his degree in criminal justice.
It is a point of pride that each of them completed his degree.
“They took academics very seriously,” said Adriel Wheeler, assistant principal at Gwynn Park.
When Moten finally walked onto the field, Coach Hayes distributed their home game jerseys that have been locked in a safe since their high school graduation.
“Can I still fit this, coach?” Moten said jokingly. They posed for pictures on the field, and took pictures of each other with their cell phones.
Moten, like Carmichael, lost his father. Anthony Moten died from a heart attack at age 53, just two days after his son turned 22.
Moten, who was not drafted, was invited to camp by the Jacksonville Jaguars and said he is looking forward to meeting his friends on the field.
“We kept in contact while in college, we’ll play against each other, and we’re going to make a statement in the NFL.”
All three players have the same legacy in mind: win a Super Bowl ring, represent the Pro Bowl and go to the Hall of Fame.
“It’s a great feeling,” Phil Taylor Sr., said, “to do something that no one has done.”