From the time he was born, Beatrice Womack wanted her son, Da’Shawn, to play basketball.

“He was a basketball player because I was a basketball player, and that’s all I knew,” said Beatrice.

Several people close to Beatrice knew something else about her oldest son, who was about 6-foot-2 as a sixth-grader: football could be Womack’s best opportunity for a college scholarship.

Despite some reservations, Beatrice Womack gave in to her son’s wishes. Wednesday, Da’Shawn signed a national letter of intent with LSU during a ceremony at St. Frances Academy.

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Da’Shawn, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound defensive end, was the Baltimore Banner/VSN Defensive Player of the Year this past season. Womack recorded 48 tackles (26 for loss), 15 quarterback sacks and recovered 5 fumbles for the area and state top-ranked Panthers.

Womack, a consensus national Top 40 recruit in the Class of 2023 who committed to LSU in July, was named Max Preps’ Maryland Player of the Year.

Not bad considering Womack didn’t commit to football until eighth grade when a family friend, Robert Dukes, convince his mother to let him play for the Parkside Warriors youth team.

“That’s not in my funds. How he is going to get to practice. Who’s going to pay for everything,” said Beatrice, who played basketball at Northwestern. “He (Dukes) said don’t worry about it, I’m going to take care of everything.”

“Once she saw me on the football field, how good I was, she started enjoying it,” said Da’Shawn, the oldest of Beatrice’s three children.

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After convincing his mother Beatrice Womack (left) to play football over basketball, Da'Shawn Womack became one of the nation's premier defensive players at St. Frances. Da'Shawn signed with LSU on the first day of the early national signing period Wednesday. (Derek Toney)

Beatrice said she was dealing with a situation with one of Da’Shawn’s siblings four years ago when she received a phone call from St. Frances, offering him a scholarship.

Womack made an impact as a sophomore, playing alongside Chris Braswell (Alabama), Derrick Moore (Michigan) and Demon Clowney.

“We knew in two or three years he would come into his own,” said St. Frances coach Messay Hailemariam. “He showed you that everyday in practice.”

Beatrice, a single mother, said her son “really didn’t have a childhood,” having to help raise his younger siblings.

Beatrice said the family is relocating to Louisiana next month as Da’Shawn will enroll for the spring sememster and participate in spring practice in April.

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“It’s been a journey. It’s been rough, but he’s made it better,” said Beatrice. “He’s the reason why I’m still standing.”

Womack was one of 12 St. Frances players to sign scholarship letters on the opening day of the early signing period (ends Friday).

Brian Simms (Cincinnati), Ryan Manning (Maryland), Sam Greene (USC), K.P. Price (Boston College), Isaiah Neal (Pittsburgh) Donovan Dyson (UMASS), Julien Moutome (Navy), Kam Howard and Colin Coates (Charlotte), and Kahari Finley and Alex Washington (Morgan State) finalized their future plans.

Coates, an offensive linemen and Howard, a defensive back, are joining the 49ers, coached by former St. Frances and Gilman coach Biff Poggi. Poggi was hired by Charlotte last month after serving as an associate head coach at Michigan the past two seasons.

Derek Toney is content editor of Varsity Sports Network, a high school sports news network that became part of The Baltimore Banner in August 2022.

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