27-1 at Dunbar, Washington not intimidated by numbers at Md.

August 16, 1991|By Dave Glassman | Dave Glassman,Special to The Evening Sun

COLLEGE PARK -- The numbers, even before 35,000 students stream onto campus, can make a freshman football recruit's head spin.

From the long, proud athletic tradition at Dunbar High SchoolKevin Washington is the first football player to receive a full athletic scholarship to the University of Maryland.

From a program that has had fewer football players show up foearly practice as try out for basketball, as meager as 13 on occasion, he is now one of 119. That's about half of the total male registration at Dunbar, all playing football.

But Washington's head is just fine. He was Dunbar'Scholar-Athlete last year, he's been a camp counselor for handicapped people, tutored younger kids and he has his head on straight.

And big-time football doesn't intimidate him. After all, Dunbabasketball is as big-time as high school gets, and Washington was a starter and captain on last year's 27-1, nationally ranked Metro Classic champions.

The Terps' only scholarship tight end recruit this year hasn't feladded pressure from being the first Dunbar grad in Maryland football.

"That's made it more of an honor," Washington said. "No onreally said anything about it, but people took me aside and gave me a vote of confidence and a pat on the back. I feel like I worked hard enough to get the scholarship, and I plan to continue -- athletically and academically."

That wouldn't surprise anyone who saw him catch 124 passefor 1,796 yards and 13 touchdowns over three years at Dunbar, or maintain a 3.0 or above grade-point average since his freshman year.

But, for this week, a foot condition has limited Washington'work to stretching and conditioning. "I'm getting bored," a frustrated Washington said.

Last year he played both football and basketball with a stresfracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. The day after the Metro Classic, he underwent a bone graft operation to correct the problem. Maryland's trainers have ordered an orthotic, a shoe insert that gives support to the bone, for Washington. But until it arrives, any day now, he won't be doing any running.

Even so, Washington already knows he's in big-time collegfootball. "Right now, I'm experiencing a lot of pain from the conditioning," he said. "It's a must if you want to compete on the collegiate level. High school conditioning is a cakewalk compared to this level." This, from a young man who jogged four to five miles per day this summer.

Washington's football future at Maryland depends to a largextent on how much weight he puts on his 6-foot-3 frame. "If he gets bigger, he's a tight end prospect," said Paul Tortorella, tight ends and H-backs coach at Maryland. "The lighter he is, he's an H-back. Right now, we've got him projected as a tight end."

Washington's large hands and athletic ability have impresseTortorella, but he needs to grow. "He's probably a year away from being an impact player," Tortorella said.

Washington understands. "Because of my lack of experiencand size, I would expect to be redshirted this year," he said. "But that won't stop me from working hard. I've already gained 6 pounds since I've been here, to 217."

After just four days, that could be a tribute to Washington, or tthe training table.

Since the freshmen reported Sunday and the returnees not untiyesterday, strength and conditioning coach Frank Costello has been evaluating tests run on the newcomers.

"As far as strength, we have an exceptionally good class,Costello said. "That's been one of the bigger surprises. We had ** probably the largest group of kids bench press over 300 pounds, and the largest group over 350 pounds we've had in some time.

"We didn't have too many sloppy looking guys," said Costello. "These kids were smart and looked like they trained during the summer. We had some exceptionally good vertical jumps, which indicates they have some power."

For Kevin Washington, who never had access to a weighprogram before and who hasn't yet been allowed to run, the tests mean little at this point. Tortorella expects he'll put on weight. His 27-inch vertical leap is a good start. He has those big, strong hands.

XTC And, as the least noticed among Maryland's three local recruits -glamour running backs Raphael Wall (Wilde Lake) and Larry Washington (Randallstown) are the others -- Kevin Washington has some extra motivation.

"I felt like I was one of the top players, too," he said. "I feel like I'lmake my mark here."

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