COLLEGE PARK -- Sophomore receiver Jason Kremus came to Maryland the way most football players do -- armed with credentials and confidence. But he found out quickly that big men on high school campuses can get lost in the crowd on a college playing field.
First he was redshirted, which is a practice big-time schools use to give first-year players who aren't expected to play much an extra year of eligibility. Then he was used sparingly as a freshman, playing in only two games and not catching a pass.
In the meantime, Kremus was beginning to doubt himself.
"I was intimidated," he said. "Here I was getting to live a high school kid's dream, but I didn't feel I was living up to it.
"It was like I had been on top and then I was on the bottom and everyone else was on top. One day I felt like I belonged and the next day I didn't."
Last Saturday against Pittsburgh, Kremus took some strides toward feeling that he belonged again. He played for the first time this season and caught everyone's attention on his third play when he ran downfield, virtually ignored by the Pitt defense.
"I saw I was open and I was hoping Jimmy [quarterback Jim Sandwisch] would see me, and he did," Kremus said. "I turned and saw the ball coming. It seemed to take a year, but when it got to me, I caught it and turned and the end zone was just 5 yards away. There was no one there to stop me."
The first catch of his college career and it went for a 23-yard touchdown. Kremus made another catch that went for 17 yards and a first down.
He hopes to carry that momentum into tomorrow's 1 p.m. game (Ch. 45) at Georgia Tech.
"Our young kids are starting to play and they have to play," said Maryland coach Joe Krivak. "Jason Kremus did a heck of a job when he got the chance. I'm encouraged by what I saw."
Jason Kremus was one of the most highly recruited football players in Pennsylvania in 1989.
When he arrived at Maryland, more big things were expected. But first came the hard dose of reality.
Kremus' father, Fred, recalls how difficult the transition was.
"I think the biggest adjustment he had to make was going from high school, where he stood out as an individual star, to college, where everyone was on the same level," said Fred.
Receivers coach Rod Sharpless said Kremus, 6 feet 1, 188 pounds, has all the physical requirements: size, strength and speed. All he needs is a little more "self-awareness," said Sharpless. "I think he should use his last game as a springboard, because he's definitely going to be getting more playing time."
That's OK with Jason Kremus, who is believing more in himself every day.