Some of the people most appreciative of Tabb High School's June 15 graduation exercises will not be present.

That absentee group of opposing York River District coaches will relish the official end to Tabb sports phenom Terry Kirby's high school career.

Kirby's legendary exploits include being the state's all-time leading football rusher and scorer. He also reigns as the top basketball scorer in YRD history with over 2,000 points.

Add to that a surprising sixth-place finish in the 100 meters in his first appearance at the state Group AA track meet last month and it's obvious why he has been named the Daily Press Male Athlete of the Year for the third consecutive time.

But the young man, named national football Player of the Year by both Parade Magazine and the Gatorade Circle of Champions, is most proud of a non-athletic feat.

"The thing that means the most to me is being able to maintain a 3.0 academic average during my athletic career," said Kirby, who made Virginia his college choice in February.

"Without that, there wouldn't have been any sports for me."

He credits his older brothers, Wayne and Kenny, for kindling his athletic drive.

"They wouldn't let me play sports with them when I was growing up because they said I was too small," said Kirby. "I told them then that I was going to be better at sports than they were."

Despite that last statement, anyone who comes in contact with Kirby has to be struck by his humility.

He is a pleasant change of pace from the prima-donna mold too often prevalent among those so talented.

His model decorum throughout one of the most intense recruiting battles in state history was as remarkable as his athletic prowess.

What did Kirby learn from the recruiting process?

"Always be up front with recruiters. If you lead them on, then they just come on that much stronger and make things more difficult.

"I was pretty sure I wanted to go to Virginia all along because it was close to home so my parents could see me play and the big-city life isn't for me. But I took my other visits to make sure Virginia was what I wanted."

Kirby has already begun a weight program Virginia sent him.

"I'd like to pick up another 10 pounds or so and play around 220," Kirby said. "The added weight won't effect my speed and will make me stronger for fighting off tackles."

He will play one more high school event, the state all-star game next month in Lynchburg. State rules forbid him from playing in the all-star basketball game the same week.

Kirby's biggest concern when the Cavaliers open practice Aug. 4 is dealing with the high expectations some people have for him.

"It's not going to be easy," Kirby said. "I'm not expecting anything that big. I just want to make a contribution as a freshman. If I get to be a starter that's fine, but if I don't, I'll learn the ropes and do what I can to help the team."

Either way, Atlantic Coast Conference coaches could soon be wishing for another Kirby graduation day.