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A Wild Journey For Bowie State's Erhie

Erhie did not play football in high school, but native of Nigeria is a key on the offensive line at Bowie State.

OgheneMaro Erhie was born in Nigeria and grew up playing soccer in that country, which is not unusual.

He now plays football for Bowie State. And there are certainly other natives of Africa who ended up playing college football in this country.

What makes the Erhie story unique is that while he attended and graduated from he never played football for the Spartans.

"I was mostly a soccer player. I was not really interested in football," Erhie, a 2006 graduate of Laurel, told Patch on Thursday.

Erhie played soccer while at Laurel High and did not play organized football until he was a walk-on at Morgan State in Baltimore.

"I guess I got really big. I liked (watching) football and wanted to play," he said. "I think I made quite an impression at Morgan State. I never dressed but I was on the practice squad in 2007."

He then transferred to Division II Bowie State and last season he made the CIAA All-Rookie team as a 6-foot-6, 340-pound offensive lineman for the Bulldogs.

The son of Tina and Soni Erhie, he will be a junior when Bowie State reports to camp next week. The Bulldogs open the season Sept. 3 at Assumption in Worcester, MA. The first home game for Bowie State is Sept. 10 at 1 p.m. against Benedict College.

Last year, Bowie State went 6-4 overall and won its last four games after starting out the season 0-3.

Jason Woodman is the first-year offensive coordinator for Bowie State under head coach Damon Wilson.

Erhie, a right tackle, said the offensive line was young last season due to injuries and ineligible players. "This year it is going to be a show. I think we will be a balanced team," he said of the offense.

The returning quarterback is senior Clifton Budd, who completed 122 of 224 passes last year for 1,538 yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. "He is going into the season as the No. 1 quarterback. That is pretty well known," Woodman said of Budd, who is from Silver Spring.

"He is ready to lead the team. He is a natural leader," Erhie said of Budd, who went to Sherwood High School in Montgomery County.

Bowie State will also return Largo High graduate Ramono Flowers, a junior running back who began his college career at Division I Central Michigan University.

He ran for 303 yards last year and averaged 5.3 yards per carry. "He is very fast. If he can see the hole he is out of there," said Erhie, who turned 24 on July 25.

The Bowie State pre-season roster includes North Laurel resident Curtis Pumphrey, a graduate of Atholton High who will be a reserve defensive back for the Bulldogs.

He started 11 games at Atholton as a senior at wide receiver, safety and kick/punt returner as the team was 8-3 and made the Maryland state playoffs.

He had 33 catches for 513 yards and two touchdowns and made 84 tackles on defense. Pumphrey, who also played basketball in high school, had more than 300 yards on kick returns for Atholton.

Pumphrey told Patch on Thursday that he also considered Shepherd in West Virginia and Towson when looking at colleges. "It felt like a family," he said of Bowie State. "It felt like it would be the best spot for me."

He plans to study business management. "I just want to get better and bigger" for football, he said.

Woodman, the offensive coordinator, said that 2011 Laurel High graduate Zane Carroll should be on the Bowie State roster this season. Carroll played quarterback for the Spartans and also played basketball at Laurel High.

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