Crab Bowl more than just a game

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- As players mingle, showing off their new Maryland Crab Bowl jerseys, one thing becomes evident. There is a lot of talent in one room.

One quick scan reveals Josh Furman, Josh Bordner, Billy Cosh, Robbie Havenstein, and Zach Zwinak. And that is before everyone arrives.

But among the wealth of big names populating the second annual Maryland Crab Bowl that will be played Monday evening, there are players such as John F. Kennedy's Bisi Ezekoye and Good Counsel's A.J. Bowman -- players who may not be at the top of recruiting analysts sheet, but players any program would be lucky to have.

Last year Ezekoye sat in the stands at Johnny Unitas Stadium, watching Devon Smith and Caleb Porzel play in the inaugural Maryland Crab Bowl. One year later, the Ezekoye is one of the Super 60 and will be the first player to announce his college decision during the game.

But for Ezekoye, playing in the second annual Maryland Crab Bowl is not just the chance to play one more football game -- he holds 15 offers - but a chance to set an example.

"It's a special game for me and my family," Ezekoye said. "It's nice to tell my mom that I'm one of the best football players in the state."

Holding offers from Harvard, Yale, Penn, Georgetown, Connecticut and Columbia among others, Ezekoye will make his choice known in the first quarter of Monday's Crab Bowl.

Ezekoye moved to Montgomery County two years ago from Pittsburgh and enrolled at Kennedy. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound athlete rushed for 800 yards and 10 touchdowns and recorded 43 tackles and one interception on defense in his first season. The junior further made a name for himself when he won the 3A 100-meter at the state championships with a time of 10.93 seconds.

So when the call came from Crab Bowl co-founder Chuck Harmon asking him to play in the game, there was a little surprise but a lot of smiles.

"I told my dad and mom I've been invited to play in the Crab Bowl. First I had to tell them what the Crab Bowl was," Ezekoye, a Pittsburgh native said. "I told them it was like the Big 33 [Pennsylvania's state-wide all-star game]. They were really proud of me and then took me out to eat to celebrate."

"It's an honor to be considered one of the best. It's almost like I feel like I'm not worthy," Ezekoye added. "But I feel like it's a reflection on my hard work and dedication."

But being a member of the Crab Bowl means more than playing another football game.

Ezekoye's little brother, Chinedu, was a freshman and the starting tailback at Kennedy this season.

For the Ezekoye, playing sets an example and gives his little brother something to be proud of.

"When he looks at this jersey, which I'm going to frame and put on my wall at home, it will give him something to brag about," Ezekoye said. "But I told him that I didn't get to the Crab Bowl by staying home and hanging out with my friends. I got there by staying in the gym and working on my grades."

For Bowman, a late addition to the Crab Bowl roster, playing in this game is bittersweet because it could be his last.

The 5-foot-10, 210-pound Bowman has been an All-WCAC First Team selection each of the past two years, earning it as a defensive lineman as a junior and a linebacker this season, but despite the accolades is still waiting on his first college offer.

On a defense that boasts national recruits like Louis Young, Troy Gloster and Vincent Croce, it was Bowman that led the Falcons in tackles and sacks this season, recording 53 tackles (11 for loss) and six sacks.

Bowman was added to the Crab Bowl roster on Thanksgiving, five days after the WCAC championship game.

That call and addition to the Crab Bowl gives the senior one last chance to play football and gives him a showcase to display his talents in the hopes that colleges will take notice.

"I was just happy to play another football game," Bowman said. "I don't know where I'm going so it might be my last game."

The Maryland Crab Bowl will be played on Monday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. at Johnny Unitas Stadium located on the campus of Towson University.

ESPNRise encourages comments from its users. Leave a comment below. Mike Loveday covers high school sports for ESPNRISE.com. Mike can be reached at Michael.Loveday@espn.com