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Athlete Worth Watching: David Harding of Archbishop Spalding High School

Jul 25, 2016 01:39PM ● By Cate Reynolds
By Tom Worgo

David Harding

Archbishop Spalding High School
Football, Basketball, Baseball

The law runs deep in David Harding’s family. His father, also David, worked as a public defender in Prince George’s County for two decades before retiring. His mother, Barbara, practices corporate law for the international law firm Jones Day in Washington, D.C.

The youngest Harding, who says he plans to attend law school after undergrad studies at Princeton University, recently graduated from Archbishop Spalding. He plans to major in economics at the Ivy League school—and play baseball there as well.

“I think I want to be a defense lawyer,” Harding explains. “I want to go to law school and see how I like it. I like to argue. I think it’s fun to do that.

“I want to help people get out of bad situations,” he adds. “That’s, especially, if it’s not right.” If Harding’s success in football, basketball, and baseball is any guide, he will be a successful attorney.

Harding, who carried a 3.8 grade point average and earned All-State honors in football last fall, was a starting point guard on the basketball team despite not playing the sport since his freshman year. On top of that, he was a feared hitter, slick fielder, and versatile mainstay on the school’s two-time defending Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship baseball team, with an ability to play a number of different positions.

“I went to college (at the University of Maryland) with a guy who is a long snapper for the Oakland Raiders, Jon Condo,” Spalding football coach Kyle Schmitt says. “He’s played football, baseball, and he wrestled. He was just good at everything, and that’s the way David is. David is just a natural athlete. He is agile, can really run, and he thinks like a coach.”

A single play in football highlighted Harding’s senior year. A national sports web site, MaxPreps, named a 78-yard punt return against Calvert Hall in October as the country’s No. 1 high school punt return in 2015. The Severna Park resident leaped over one defender on the play and sliced through a cluster of others on his way to the end zone.

“I knew it was a pretty impressive play, but I didn’t think it would get national recognition,” Harding says. Schmitt adds, “It showed his really incredible athletic ability.”

Schmitt also says the 5-foot-10, 165-pound Harding could easily play college football if he decided to pursue it. He was named Spalding’s Most Valuable Player the past two seasons.

As a senior, Harding started at both cornerback and wide receiver while returning kicks and punts. He led the team in receptions (48), yards (622), touchdowns (7), and interceptions (3).

“The reason he was MVP for our football team?” Schmitt asks rhetorically. “You look at who did the most for your program. David was just such a dependable player for us. Offensively, he created a lot of versatility for us. On defense, we had some issues at cornerback. We said, ‘Let’s put our best player back there and he will figure it out.’ He did.”
However, Harding will concentrate on baseball at Princeton, beginning this fall. The 18-year-old chose the Tigers over scholarship offers from Bucknell and Saint Joseph’s universities.

“It’s been my goal to go to an Ivy League school,” says Harding, who took advance placement classes as a senior in calculus, economics, environmental science, and government.

“But I wanted to make sure baseball-wise it was a good fit,” he adds. “I like the coach (ex-New York Yankee Scott Bradley) a lot and I looked at the team dynamic. They have two infielders graduating next year, so I thought I would come in and have a chance to play right away.”

Spalding baseball coach Joe Palumbo loved Harding’s ability to play all around the diamond for the Cavaliers. He started in left field as a sophomore, moved to second base as a junior, and ended up as a shortstop during his senior year.

“He can play any position,” Palumbo says of a player who hit .385 as a sophomore and .325 as a junior. “I didn’t really expect him to start as a sophomore, but he was so good I had to find him a place. He is unique. He is one of the most athletic players I have coached, and probably the smartest. He anticipates things so well. He is always one step ahead of everybody.”

On the basketball court, Harding played on Spalding’s junior varsity as a freshman, but didn’t play again until his senior year. He ended up as the team’s floor leader and averaged seven assists and three steals per game. “I had to start Dave,” Spalding first-year boys basketball coach Nick Jones says. “He is that much of a leader. He is incredibly mature.”