COLLEGE PARK -- The Maryland freshman from Columbia didn't think it would come to this so quickly. Goodbye, Mark Mason. Hello, Raphael Wall.
The Terps lost Mason for the season when the sophomore tailback and leading rusher broke his right leg in the third quarter of Saturday's loss to Georgia Tech. One change in the depth chart as Maryland prepares for its visit to Wake Forest Saturday brings Wall up from the depths.
Senior Troy Jackson is No. 1; he has rushed for 199 yards to Mason's 452. Doug Burnett, a redshirt freshman from Laurel Springs, N.J., is No. 2, followed by a pair of true freshmen, Larry Washington from Randallstown High and Wall from Wilde Lake.
"Troy now will be the workhorse again, like he was most of last year," running backs coach Paul Castonia said. "But all four will play. The guy who gets hot will get most of the work."
While Washington has played in three games and rushed 10 times for 25 yards and returned four kickoffs for 69 yards, Wall has yet to play a down. It now appears unlikely he'll be redshirted. He has mixed feelings about that. If this is going to count as a year of eligibility, he would have preferred it be a full year.
"I'm not so happy my chance is coming after the fifth game," said Wall. "But Mason went down. I have to play."
Wall led Wilde Lake to a 13-0 record and the state 2A championship when he scored the winning touchdown in overtime to beat Damascus, 13-7. His career totals were 5,100 yards and 63 TDs.
Wall's 4.4-second speed for 40 yards attracted Tennessee, Rutgers and Notre Dame as well as Maryland. But no sooner had he arrived here in August than he suffered knee and ankle injuries in a pileup.
That put him behind the other recruits, but he has made up the lost time. Wall heard the magic words from coach Joe Krivak yesterday.
"He said he was going to rep me and play me this week," Wall said, referring to practice repetitions with the other leading running backs. "It's time to move up and mature. People asked when I was going to play. I told them I've been ready. I am ready."
Washington calls the injury to Mason a "big loss" and figures the 5-foot-8 whippet from Potomac was "headed for a 1,000-yard season." It will, however, mean more activity for him.
"Running five times like I did last week isn't enough to get into the flow," Washington said. "I need more series. If I get a hole and work up steam, I'm looking to run over some people."
Burnett, who has rushed nine times for 36 yards, is Mason's roommate. It appeared to him that Mason was bound for the All-Atlantic Coast Conference team.
"We still have young guys who are good," Burnett said. "As we gain experience, we'll get better."
Krivak is saying the expected coachly things: Injuries are part of the game and there's nothing you can do about them; there are six more games; the next guys will "step up."
Two of them are the freshmen from the Baltimore area, Washington and Wall.