Terps freshman Smith is heavyweight prospect Defensive tackle fills out position

August 16, 1991|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Correspondent

COLLEGE PARK -- Rudy Smith eats three hamburgers for breakfast and two bowls of Cap'n Crunch at brunch. Lunch usually consists of a large box of spaghetti, and dinner is always a steak with a small salad.

If Smith is really hungry, it's ice cream for desert.

Rudy Smith is only a freshman. A rather large, muscular freshman. And he's already a pretty good football player with the potential to be a great one.

"He's certainly made some good impressions on us," said Maryland defensive line coach Dennis Murphy of Smith, a 6-foot-4, 222-pound tackle. "For a person with such long arms, he has shown tremendous strength for a person of his age. His physical abilities remind me of Warren [Powers, former Terps defensive tackle, now with the Denver Broncos] when he was a freshman. I think Rudy may be a cut above him."

Smith is part of a freshman class that, according to strength and conditioning coach Frank Costello, may be the Terps' best in the past five years. While most of the talk has centered around freshman running backs Larry Washington of Randallstown and Raphael Wall of Wilde Lake and Butler, Pa., quarterback Scott Milanovich during the week of freshman camp, Smith has been the standout.

He bench pressed 365 pounds, squatted 425 and ran a 4.9 40. Smith, who has a 44-inch chest and a 32-inch waist, had a vertical leap of 31 inches. The techniques seem to be solid, and the Terps will find out more once the veterans start practicing today.

"Everybody should look good with no pads on," said Murphy, smiling. "Everything about him seems so positive. He is very athletic and attentive."

The Maryland coaching staff took its first look at Smith last fall, when he was a senior offensive and defensive tackle at Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J. Smith had 54 tackles last season and was recruited by a number of schools, including Southern California and Boston College.

But some colleges backed off because Smith was, well, "a runt."

"I was a forward on the basketball team my sophomore and junior seasons, and all that running kept taking my weight off," said Smith, who weighed 189 pounds last football season and was a 6-0, 135-pound weakling as a high school freshman.

"Last year, I decided not to play basketball just to get ready for the football season," said Smith. "I didn't know if I had enough time to put on the weight, but when some of the scouts came back to see some of the other players they had signed this summer, they couldn't believe I was this big.

"I think my size is hereditary, but not from my parents," said Smith. "My mother [Marie] is is only 5-5, and my father [Robespierre] is just 5-7. But my mother says she had a grandfather who was a 7-foot colonel in the Haitian army, and that's where I get my size from."

The Terps' coaching staff is still considering how to use Smith this season. Initially, they wanted to play him at outside linebacker because of his quickness. But because of the increased weight, Smith has been moved to the interior line.

Smith prefers to sit out this season as a redshirt, and Murphy agrees. It's a luxury the Terps can afford, with perhaps the best defensive line in the Atlantic Coast Conference, led by tackles Lubo Zizakovic (6-7, 275) and All-America candidate Larry Webster (6-5, 275).

Murphy said: "The final call belongs to Coach Krivak [head coach Joe Krivak], but I like being selfish in this situation. In a year, he could probably add another 20 pounds. And a person with that build, his skill and athletic ability makes coaching a whole lot easier for the next four years."

NOTES: TE Eric Eisen, a 6-foot-5, 260-pound junior transfer tight end from La Roche College in Pittsburgh, has left the team because of medical reasons. Eisen recently suffered head injuries and was not given a release from a doctor in Pittsburgh for contact. . . . Each year, Maryland plays a schedule that is ranked among the toughest in the country, and it probably will stay that way as long as Andy Geiger is athletic director. After the 1992 season, Maryland is committed to eight conference games and one non-conference game against West Virginia. That leaves the Terps with only two open dates. "It's a rule that if you want to play in a bowl game, you have to have a winning record against Division I teams," said Geiger. "Also, we're playing in front of a sophisticated audience. They're not going to fTC pay to see some of the lesser-name teams.

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