When Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha junior running back Mark Allen went down with a torn ACL in mid-October, it was up to his backfield mate to bear the brunt of the load. And, really, there was no question junior Taiwan Deal would succeed. After all, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound moose-of-a-runner has the size and stamina to take a weekly pounding, the speed to hit the home run, and the power to push the pile.
"I knew it was my time to step up," said Deal, who helped carry his DeMatha squad to the conference championship game by rushing for almost 200 yards and five touchdowns during a 40-27 victory over Gonzaga. "I've been working and preparing to help my team, and I felt like I could get the job done. The line does their part and I do mine."
For the season, Deal has rushed for nearly 900 yards and averaged over eight yards per carry. He began opening college coaches' eyes last year as a rotational runner, and this season he's already secured his first scholarship offers.
"Right now I know I have an offer from Maryland and I think Tennessee has offered, too," Deal said. "Our coaches don't let us know everything about offers until after the season, but I know I have Maryland."
Besides Maryland and possibly Tennessee, Deal is hearing from Boston College, Northwestern, Duke, Rutgers and Penn State, among others. He said the Teps pulled the trigger on him earlier during the fall.
"The Maryland coaches saw me at a team camp [during the summer], and then I know their coaches have seen us play," Deal said. "Coach [Randy] Edsall and Coach [Mike] Locksley talked to my parents, and [the coaches] said they liked my running style and my game a lot. They said they wanted me to be part of the Maryland program."
Deal has attended two Maryland games this year and plans to be at the Terps-Florida State game as well. He said he was impressed with how well the team played earlier this year and enjoyed being in Byrd Stadium.
"Maryland's cool," Deal said. "I like their facilities, I like their coaches and I like the program. I could see myself there."
The DeMatha 'back isn't sure whether or not he wants to stay close to home for college, but he did admit it would be "nice" to play in front of his family and friends. He already knows several current Terps and said the chance to play with them would factor into his decision.
"I know Stefon Diggs, Wes Brown and some of the other freshmen," Deal said. "I've spoken to [former Stag] Kenny Tate, too. They've all said good things about Maryland, so they have that [going for them]."
Deal hasn't set his offseason schedule yet, but he said he'd like to visit Boston College, Tennessee, Duke, Maryland and Northwestern.
"I'm going a bunch of different places, but I just don't know which ones I'm getting to yet," Deal said. "Right now I just want to help my team win this championship."