Fork Union Military: The Prep football legend

Eddie George may be the most famous FUMA Graduate

No other prep school football team in America can match the football win-loss records, or boast the famous pro alumni. If you make the All-PG (Post-graduate) Team, you are a made man in football. But each player will tell you that FUMA was the turning point in their life, as a person, as well, as a player.<br> <p> <b>SEPTEMBER 20 UPDATE</b><br>

SEPTEMBER 20 EMAIL UPDATE

Max,

That article you did on Fork Union was very good. We really appreciate the positive coverage, but there are a few items that need to be corrected. We have two football programs here at FUMA. We have a high school program and a post graduate program. These are two totally different programs with two different coaching staffs.

We have won 6 State football titles in the last 10 years. Eddie George played on the high school team for three years 10th grade through 12th grade. Chris Perry played on the high school team as well, for four years. Also Osmar Staples played on the high school team. Now, Vinney Testeverde and Dexter Coakley played on the Post Grad team.

Also, Eddie George had 32 touchdowns in one season, but that is not the record, because Chris Perry has 43 touchdowns and that is the record. Coach Micky Sullivan is the head high school coach and AD, and he has been here for 27 years.

Thanks so much for your help and support. I hope this will help your website. If you have any questions feel free to call me. Have a great day.

Patrick R. Baker
Asst. Prep Coach FUMA

AUGUST 7 FUMA STORY

EDITOR'S NOTE: Some corrections, including heights and weights, have been made to the original FUMA Story!

Fork Union, Virginia - As the story goes, Eddie George, the Ohio State Heisman Trophy winner, and reigning all pro running back for the Tennessee Titans, scored 32 touchdowns in one season while at Fork Union Military Academy. That's still a FUMA record. The other Eddie George record, which has not been eclipsed, are the 100 floors he waxed as a cadet up on the hill, where military discipline escapes no cadet, regardless of his fame, fortune, or gridiron greatness.

Osmar Staples, has earned a scholarship to San Jose State. He reports to their camp this summer, but he is back at FUMA tuning up his big 300-pound lineman body in the FUMA, mammoth $8 Million dollar, all brick, indoor track/field house, which is big enough to hold full scale football practices, as well. Seated in the state of the art weight room, Staples tells the secrets of Fork Union's success.

"It's not about what happens down here on the football field," Staples says, "because that will all work out, everybody is good or they wouldn't be here."

"Nah, FUMA's not all about football. It's all about what happens up there, up on the hill," as the big lineman gestures towards the towering stone spartan structures about a quarter-mile or so away at the top of a knoll. This is where the class rooms, barracks, and other stark school buildings gather in a circle, all neatly placed with great precession around cannons, and other relics of the military.

"You will see, that the rule here is discipline first. The acceptance of discipline proves what kind of man you are. If you can't handle it, or if you smart off, roll your eyes, or have an attitude that is unacceptable to the principles of the military, then you are not ready to be a man. If you are not ready to be a man, then Coach John Shuman is not going to be ready to play you, or recommend you to a college coach, because he believes football is a man's sport - football is battle. You can't be in a battle with men you can not rely on. That's the way it is in the military, and that's the way it is in football. So, proving you are a man with the military is what it is all about here at FUMA," Staples concluded.

The roll call of player-cadets, who have proved, to Head Coach John Shuman that they are men, is legendary: All-Pro and Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George proved it. Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testeverde proved it. Dexter Coakley proved it. Current University of Virginia All-American receiver, Billy McMullan proved it. Current Michigan Freshman All-American running back and current touchdown record-holder Chris Perry proved it. As did a host of over 50 NFL and hundreds of college greats. In short, every successful athlete that has come through FUMA has either bought into the FUMA philosophy of unification of the body, the spirit, and the development of leadership through the acceptance of military discipline and humility, or they have been sent home packing.

"The formula is simple. Only after you get in step 'up on the hill' at FUMA, do you earn a chance to play football for FUMA."

"And if you play competitive football at FUMA, you're a made man. Then, it's not a question of, will you get a scholarship offer? It's usually a question of, which one do you want to take?"

Without a Fork in the road, Eddie George doubts that his original career path would have led him to the Super Bowl. The superstar running back of the 1999 AFC champion Tennessee Titans says his decision to attend Fork Union Military Academy was the turning point in his life. Had it not been for that experience, the 1996 NFL #1 Draft pick admits that he might have spent his days serving fries and cheesebugers at the local fast-food burger joint, rather than the all-pro moves that he gives his many beloved Buckeye and Titan football fans.

"I wouldn't be in jail somewhere, but I don't think I would be as successful as I am," says George. "I'd probably be a manager at a fast-food restaurant or something. Not that that's a bad job, but that was just the reality of my situation."

Eddie George transferred to Fork Union after his sophomore year at Abington High School in his hometown of Philadelphia. "It instilled discipline in me," he said, "because I think I lacked that at that particular time in my life. It was very crucial for me to leave and go to Fork Union, because I was on a path headed to nowhere. So I had to really get focused and decide on what I wanted to do with my life. I was young, but time was starting to run out on me. I really had no ambitions of doing anything other than skipping school and playing street football."

His maturity, drive, and determination helped him eventually achieve so much more than that as a football player. By the tender age of 26, Eddie George had earned a scholarship to Ohio State, won the Heisman Trophy, and made an improbable appearance on pro football's ultimate stage...The Super Bowl.

George helped lead the surprising Titans to Super Bowl 34, where Tennessee came up a yard short on the final play in a dramatic 23-16 loss to the Saint Louis Rams. George rushed for 95-yards and two touchdowns in that game.

Fork Union recruits the nation's best athletes to play on their four football teams, consisting of The Post Graduate (PG) All-Stars; The Undergraduate Team; The Thirds Team; and The Fourths Team. One interesting note, is that Eddie George, scholarshiped to Ohio State from the Undergraduate Team, which has won a multiple Virginia State Championships, and it plays tough regional high schools like Dematha, in Washington, DC.

In fact, the football talent is so rich here, among the 650 all-male population, that FUMA gives scholarships to more football players to colleges, than many other schools give in a lifetime. Every single year, the All-PG Team alone, averages 20 scholarship players to major Division I powerhouses.

It is the All-PG team that draws the most interest from college recruiters. Each year, to accommodate all of the interest, FUMA, holds its own Football Combines, which is attended by over 150 coaches. It is held in December, about 60 days before The National Signing Date. Coaches will come from coast to coast to get a glimpse, of perhaps, another Eddie George or a Vinny Testeverde.


From L to R: WR J.J. Martin (6-4), WR Brandon London (6-4), QB Brett Weyman (6-3), WR Jesse Pellot-Rosa (6-4), LB/FB Taj Henley (6-1), and WR Shawn Lauzon (6-5).

This year, All PG Team is again loaded with exceptional athletes, manu of whom will go on and to become super stars in college. One of the most talented athletes in the country may be Jesse Pellot-Rosa (6-4, 200, 4.45) who was the 3A Virginia basketball Player of the Year in 2001. He was originally from Richmond George Wythe. Pellot-Rosa will team with another three or four potential super star receivers, including Brandon London (6-4, 180, 4.4); J.J. Martin (6-4, 200, 4.45); Josh Hyman (6-0, 180, 4.5) of Chesapeake Deepcreek; and Shawn Lauzon (6-5, 200, 4.5) to form one of the most potent receiving corps in the country for quarterback Brett Weyman (6-3, 220, 4.53), the only undergraduate on the team, who has just transferred from Avon Old Farms School, CT.

Two 2002 University of Virginia signees that did not make their grades will also play for the PG team including defensive tackle Robert Armstrong (6-3, 304, 4.8) and defensive tackle Keenan Carter (6-2, 367, 5.1). Armstrong is originally from Alexandria Washington-Lee and Carter is from Dunfries Poromac. Another outstanding two-way lineman is Robbie Powell (6-5, 255, 4.9) who played high school football at Roanoke Cave Spring.

Their two linebackers will include Taj Henley (6-1, 200, 4.5) from Richmond George Wythe; and returning starter Karren Taylor (6-1, 295, 4.4) of Hopewell. Taylor had 27 sacks on the PG team last season, as an underclassman, and he is returning for his PG season.

And then there is still another potential super star who will be playing at one of the defensive end positions. Charles Liesseld (6-4, 235, 4.7) of Richmond Monacan was heavily recruited last year, but he did not make his grades. He will make them this year as a member of the FUMA PG-Team and he will sign with a major powerhouse in the spring.

FUMA Head Coach John Shuman has helped more high school football players get football scholarships than any othercoach in the country. He refers to it as placing his product. He has a remarkable track record in placing hundreds of kids into Division I fotball programs. Last year, for example, he placed all four of his PG quarterbacks. This year should be a breeze, as he only has two.

Coach Trip Billingsley, the FUMA quarterback coach, when asked recently to recall some of the current college standouts, replies with a question of his own, "At which school?" Billingsley says, "We have so many players playing, I think that we have an impact player, playing in every major football conference in the country."

Fork Union actively recruits athletes to play on their All-PG team. Financial aid is available. These standout players come for a variety of reasons. It is a chance for some kids to better their SAT scores. For others, it is a chance for additional exposure, in hopes of getting a higher level scholarship. Others come to boost their GPA. Still, others, just want to mature for another year, before entering a major college program.

"All these kids have one thing in common. Talent, super-talent," said Coach John Poindexter who coaches the receivers on the All-PG Team. "That's what gets them in the door," he said.

To make the team, each player, has to try-out and most of them get cut. Those who make it, get to play at a level of competition which is a giant two notches above any high school program anywhere in the country. So, each year FUMA fields a team with 40 or so PG athletes, all of whom, who have something to prove as a man and as a football player. They are an elite group of prep athletes, who want to test themselves at the next level.

It is the most unique football team in America. There are a handful of other schools, in the Northeast, who try to emulate Fork Union, but FUMA is the legend and the mold. It plays the toughest college Freshmen and Junior Varsity schedule among teams who will take a chance and book them, because FUMA will usually win.

Each year, they will play Virginia Tech, Virginia, West Virginia, Louisville, Colgate, and other formidable opponents, like Tennessee, during their ten game season.

An average FUMA record is 8-2, 7-3. Many times they have gone undefeated. They play the college teams by college rules, but their PG players are considered prep players, by the NCAA, and colleges can recruit them each year, from the same rising senior high school class, and by the same rules, as they do any other local high school senior, in any town in the country.

It is a level between high school and college, but it is not Junior College. So, when a PG player plays a year of football, it is done without loosing any eligibility. It is the "football twilight zone" and it is what makes this team so tough, and so unique.

Coach John Shuman has been at the helm of the All-PG Team for 17 years. Every college recruiter in the nation knows he holds the keys to an exclusive football talent treasure chest or in other words, a group of 40 athletes who have already graduated from high school with all-everything honors, and who now, by making this team, get to play at the ultimate level

If you want to play football where legends live, bring your cleats, but before you leave home, don't forget to ask your mom for some tips on how to use "Mop and Glow" to mop and wax the floor.

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