Perhaps Curtis Drake has a future in public speaking.

So far, you could say he's 1-for-1 when it comes to giving impactful talks.

Last Tuesday, upon arriving home from Penn State, where he's already having special moments as a freshman wideout, the former West Catholic quarterback star stopped by La Salle's practice mainly to catch up with junior two-way back Jamal Abdur-Rahman and assistant Eric Taylor, his former youth-ball coach with the Oak Lane Wildcats.

Then, there he was, clearing his throat with all eyes on him.

"We were talking for about 5 minutes," La Salle coach Drew Gordon, "and then he asked me, 'Do you mind if I talk to the kids?' Mind? I thought it was great that he was offering to do that. What a nice thing. He reinforced everything I'd been talking about. And coming from someone like him, I'm sure it had much more impact.

"He talked about intensity. And not taking anything for granted. And not being overconfident. He told my players, 'This is your chance. Don't blow it. I live with it every day.' "

West fell to Wilmington, 35-34, in two overtimes, in last year's AA final. Saturday, La Salle bested State College, 24-7, for the AAAA crown.

"I was really excited for them," Drake said last night. "I just wanted to see them do well and I felt, by talking, that maybe I could make a difference. At first I was just going to talk to 'Ab' but then I asked if I could talk to all of them.

"Since State College is right we are, I knew how important it was going to be to them. I wanted the La Salle guys' minds to be right, too."

Drake's gesture was mentioned during PCN's telecast.

"I heard it," he said. "I watched the whole game. I'm so happy for La Salle."

- Ted Silary