Wall, Washington start on Maryland sidelines Top-rated freshmen are nursing injuries

August 13, 1991|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Correspondent

COLLEGE PARK -- Larry Washington and Raphael Wall posed for pictures. They talked to reporters. They were scheduled for more interviews. Carson and Letterman had to be in the neighborhood.

Washington and Wall. Or is it Wall and Washington? They were sideline attractions yesterday, not because of advance publicity, but because that's where they spent most of the afternoon nursing injuries as University of Maryland freshmen held their first on-the-field practice. Upperclassmen report Thursday.

Wall, a 6-foot, 200-pounder from Wilde Lake High, practiced for about an hour before sitting out the remainder of the two-hour session with a slight groin pull. Washington, a 5-foot-11, 198-pounder from Randallstown High, who has a bruised left foot, won't practice until Friday. The tandem, the most publicized Maryland freshmen in the past four years, suffered their injuries in the recent Big 33 High School Football Classic against a Pennsylvania All-Star team.

"We were the guys getting all the big publicity and we end up sitting out the first practice," said Wall. "The guy who ended up carrying the ball was somebody no one has even heard of. It's been a frustrating day."

And a long one for Wall. His shoes were too big. He pulled his groin. And maybe, just maybe, he should have done a little more training during the summer time.

"First we run the 40 --, then it's over to the shuttle for another time," said Wall, who rushed for 2,063 yards last season. "I thought we were going to get a water break, but we go right to another drill. I'm standing out there with my tongue hanging out. I thought I was going to die. Tomorrow, I'll come out here not expecting anything."

But for at least one hour yesterday, Wall made a solid impression on running back coach Paul Castonia. "For the little time he was out there, he looked fluid and very smooth in the passing routes," said Castonia. "I wish I could say something else, but that's all there is because they were on the sidelines."

Wall is expected to practice today, but Washington is waiting for some special inserts for his shoe to take some pressure off a bone in his foot.

Washington took his physical examination Sunday, then took some other tests, including the bench press (245 pounds) and the vertical leap (27 inches). Wall bench pressed 285 and had a vertical leap of 28. Wall also ran a 4.6 time in the 40 yesterday. Washington walked at all times.

"If I could have, I would have been out there," said Washington, who had what is believed to be a state-record 2,275 yards last season. "I just have to be patient and when I get a shot, I just have prove I'm the best."

That remark brought laughter from Wall, who is competing for playing time at the tailback position with Washington along with Mark Mason and Troy Jackson, both up per-class regulars a year ago.

"The best, huh?" said a smiling Wall, who is Washington's roommate. "We'll see about that."

Their running styles are entirely different. Wall is more of a slasher and outside runner, and Washington prefers running through players.

Maryland coach Joe Krivak has hinted that if Washington shows he can play right away, he might be moved to fullback.

"I've set some real high standards for myself, and I want to play a lot no matter where it is," said Washington. "I know I have two other guys before me, but I figure if I do well, the coach will get me in somewhere."

It's a similar situation for Wall. Krivak was impressed with Wall's ability as a wide receiver in the Big 33 game, and there has been talk about also giving him an opportunity as a flanker.

"Anywhere," said Wall. "Anywhere. I'd even play defense."

But before any shuffling can be done, Wall and Washington, oops, Washington and Wall, have to make it through a couple of practices.

Wall said, "I felt a little guilty not practicing today with all the hype we've gotten."

Washington said: "I like the publicity. I've waited all my life for this and worked very hard from little league on up. I feel as though I deserved it. And until we get a chance to prove ourselves, that's all it is, hype. We're supposed to be the two best backs they have recruited here in a long time, and before it's over, I think we'll prove it."

NOTES: Maryland athletic department officials confirmed yesterday that renovations to Byrd Stadium would be complete by the season opener Sept. 7, when the Terps play host to Virginia. Also, school officials will meet with state legislatures in Annapolis tomorrow to get the go-ahead to begin accepting bids for the construction of the new football team center. . . . Terps senior DT Lubo Zizakovic was the first player drafted in the third round by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL, but elected to play his final year at Maryland. . . . Senior OLB Joel Goode, who flunked out and missed last season, is back in school and could start for the Terps this season pending the release of his summer school grades. Reserve OLB Louis Johnson, a sophomore, and senior DT Derek Steele are in a similar situation. . . . Jeff Gray, Maryland's new associate athletic director for external affairs, will report to work Thursday.

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