Wycheck, Wiestling give Terrapins H-back attack 2-of-a-kind players among top receivers

October 10, 1991|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Correspondents

COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland football practice is about to start when a motorcycle zooms across the parking lot.

The driver has on a T-shirt and sunglasses, has blond hair and wears a baseball cap backward. His passenger has on a T-shirt (( and sunglasses, has blond hair and wears a baseball cap backward.

One is Terps H-back Frank Wycheck. The other is Terps H-back Chad Wiestling. Which one is which?

"It's hard to tell them apart," said Maryland quarterback Jim Sandwisch. "They do everything together and everything alike. They run the same, catch the same. The only difference is everybody knows about Frank, and Chad doesn't get a lot of publicity."

Other Atlantic Coast Conference teams know about both of them, especially Georgia Tech (2-3 overall, 1-2 ACC), which will play Maryland (1-3, 1-0) Saturday at noon at Grant Field in Atlanta.

Wycheck, a 6-foot-3, 233-pound redshirt sophomore, is second in the conference in receptions, with 20 for 157 yards. Wiestling, a 6-1, 215-pound sophomore, is 11th, with 12 catches for 79 yards.

Wiestling and Wycheck have been a stable presence in an inconsistent Maryland offense. In the first three games, they were the Terps' passing game, despite zone defenses shifted against them.

"More teams are adjusting to our H-backs this year, not letting them catch short passes as often as last year," said Paul Tortorella, Maryland's H-back and tight end coach. "The receptions are down, but you have to remember that we've been more successful running than a year ago. And what we haven't gotten from them in terms of receptions, we've gotten it in their blocking.

"I couldn't think of two other kids I would like to coach. They are like throwbacks to another era. They don't have a lot of flash, but they're just good, aggressive players with a lot of similarities."

They're from Pennsylvania, they're built similarly and they live in the same apartment suite. They have rugged, pointed chins and enjoy similar rock music (Wycheck Guns N' Roses, Wiestling Kix). Neither is excitingly fast, but both have sure hands.

"Actually, we don't know what we have in common," said Wycheck, laughing. "We just seem to hang out together, and we're pretty good friends. People are always calling me Chad and him Frank, even guys on the team."

Make no mistake, Wycheck is the team's No. 1 H-back, even though he has doubled as a tight end and occasionally as a fullback on short-yardage situations this season.

Wycheck caught the ACC by surprise last season, when Maryland unveiled its new, one-back offense. He finished as the conference's leading receiver, with 58 catches for 509 yards. Wycheck needs one more catch to tie Gary Collins for 11th on the Terps' career reception list.

Wiestling, who had 13 catches for 112 yards last season, played only part time in 1990, missing six games with a broken collarbone.

Wiestling probably would start for most other major-college teams that use H-backs, but he has accepted his role as No. 2 at Maryland.

It would seem that the competition would cause friction between the two, but instead it has strengthened their friendship.

Wycheck: "I think Chad may have been a little frustrated last year, being new, having to give up his redshirt freshman year and then splitting time. But I think he realizes that I was here first, and I've got more time in than him. We don't have a problem with it."

Wiestling: "Actually, Frank really helped me learn about the offense last season. We talk a lot of football. I was a little concerned last year because they moved me up to his class, and neither one of us would get a chance to play one full year by himself. But I'm all right now. I have learned to accept my role and make the best of it."

NOTES: Georgia Tech has 3 area players on its team playing prominent roles. Starting senior LT Mooney is from South Carroll High and Mount Airy. Sophomore Chris Brooks, from Baltimore and Poly, is his backup, and freshman Jamal Cox, from Baltimore and Gilman, is a special-teams performer and has played sparingly at linebacker. . . . Georgia Tech could cause a lot of problems for Maryland's secondary, which will be missing 1 and possibly both of its starting cornerbacks. The Yellow Jackets are second in the conference in passing, averaging 211 yards. They have 1 of the best sets of receivers in the conference in Emmett Merchant (5 receptions, 64 yards), Greg Lester (17, 373) and Bobby Rodriguez (9, 105). . . . Terps senior LB Mike Jarmolowich leads the ACC in tackles with 49, and sophomore RB Mark Mason is first in all-purpose yards with 486. He is third in rushing with 378. . . . Senior starting CB Mike Thomas, who pulled a left hamstring in Saturday's loss to Pittsburgh, has been upgraded from questionable to probable for Saturday's game.




Penn State at Miami, Ch. 13

Maryland at Georgia Tech, chs. 45, 7

12:30 p.m.

Michigan at Michigan State, ESPN

1 p.m.

Georgia at Mississippi, HTS

1:30 p.m.

Pitt at Notre Dame, chs. 2, 4, 25, 8

2 p.m.

Virginia State at Hampton, BET

3:30 p.m.

Virginia at Clemson, chs. 13, 7

7:30 p.m.

Tennessee at Florida, ESPN

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