The Atlanta Falcons are coming to town to try to slow down the surging Washington Commanders, who have won five of their last six games. Head Coach Arthur Smith is a graduate of Georgetown Prep (North Bethesda), Arnold Ebitekie is a graduate of Einstein High School, and defensive tackle Derrick Tangelo (practice squad) is a graduate of Bullis in Potomac.
Arthur Smith played a big role in the development of Derrick Henry as one of the best running backs in the NFL, turning the Titans offense around, and helping the team make the playoffs in consecutive years before earning the head coaching job in Atlanta. Smith, who graduated from Georgetown Prep in 2001, guided the Little Hoyas to an undefeated season and an IAC championship as a senior. He was inducted into the Georgetown Prep Athletic Hall of Fame in 2017, just two years before being promoted to offensive coordinator for the Titans. Smith started his NFL coaching career when he was named the defensive quality control coach for Washington back in 2007. You may have also heard of his father’s company. Arthur Smith’s father, Frederick W. Smith, is the founder, chairman, president, and CEO of FedEx.
Arnold Ebiketie is a rookie drafted with the 38th overall pick in second round of the NFL draft. The 6-2, 250-pound linebacker transferred to Penn State from Temple and was named first-team All-Big Ten in 2021. He had 18 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, and seven quarterback hits for the Nittany Lions last season. Ebiketie originally attended Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville before transferring to Albert Einstein High School in Kensington where he had 21.5 sacks as a senior in 2017. While at Einstein, he also played basketball and was a sprinter and high jumper for the track & field team. He now starts at linebacker for the Falcons and has 2.5 sacks on the season.
Derrick Tangelo, a native of Gaithersburg who graduated from Bullis, went undrafted after a college career at Duke and Penn State. The defensive tackle impressed coaches and earned a spot on the Falcons practice squad, but is currently injured. Sports Illustrated reported that Tangelo was one of Atlanta’s best defensive linemen in training camp, “holding his own at the line of scrimmage on running plays and pressuring the Falcons’ quarterbacks on passing downs.”
Bonus nearby connection: Jared Bernhardt was on the men’s lacrosse team at the University of Maryland for five seasons. He led Maryland as the school’s career leader in goals with 202 and points with 290. In 2021, his fifth season with Maryland (one season was cancelled due to Covid-19), he won the Tewaaraton Award as the nation’s best collegiate player. He made the Atlanta Falcons 53-man roster to start the season, but is currently on injured reserve.