COLLEGE PARK -- Andre Vaughn limped down the steps in Maryland's football building, conjuring up memories of the knee injury that nearly ended his college career.
Vaughn underwent major knee surgery 2 1/2 years ago after a spring practice injury, missed the 1989 season and this year switched from tailback to defensive back partly to avoid the risk of re-injury.
The junior out of Oakland Mills High in Columbia suffered the current injury to the same left knee in a collision Monday in practice. The knee is sore and slightly swollen but apparently there is no ligament or cartilage damage. He is listed as probable for Saturday's game at Wake Forest.
Vaughn plays mostly in obvious passing situations when the Terps use five defensive backs. He is fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference in interceptions with two.
Coach Joe Krivak yesterday tried to phone two of his former quarterbacks, Boomer Esiason of the 0-6 Cincinnati Bengals and Neil O'Donnell of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He didn't reach O'Donnell, who came off the bench to rally the Steelers from a 20-0 deficit Monday night in what concluded as a 23-20 loss to the New York Giants.
"I did get Neil's dad," said Krivak, whose Terps are 1-4. "With Boomer, it was a question of who was consoling who. That's one of the great things about football, the way people close to you rally around."
When asked how others are responding to Maryland's poor start, Krivak cracked, "Well, my wife still gets up and makes breakfast for me."
Wake Forest also is 1-4, having beaten only Western Carolina. The Deacons have lost nine of their last 11 meetings with Maryland. Wake's only two victories during the period were at College Park in 1986 and '88.
Wake coach Bill Dooley will become the all-time leader in ACC games coached with No. 174 Saturday. He'll surpass Earle Edwards, who coached his 173rd and final ACC game at North Carolina State in 1970.
The legendary Frank Howard of Clemson, No. 3 with 172, finished his career 22 years ago. Dooley's closest pursuers among current ACC coaches are George Welsh of Virginia and Bobby Ross of Georgia Tech, both with 110.
The ACC's leading receiver is Wake's John Henry Mills with 26 catches, an average of 5.2 per game. He ranks No. 22 in the country. Mills had a big day against Maryland last year with six catches for 101 yards, one of three games during his career that he has reached the 100-yard mark.
The Terps' Frank Wycheck is third in the ACC with 21 receptions. The sophomore had only one catch in last week's loss to Georgia Tech, but it tied him with Gary Collins (1958-61) for 11th place on Maryland's career list with 79. With eight more catches, Wycheck will move to No. 6 behind Greg Hill. The all-time leader is Azizuddin Abdur Ra-oof with 108 from 1984-87.
Krivak was asked at his weekly news conference yesterday if he had thought about starting someone other than Jim Sandwisch at quarterback. He said he had but apparently it never left the thought stage.
"Regardless of the won-lost record, you play your best," Krivak said. "Sandwisch is our best."
Krivak conceded that backup John Kaleo played respectably in the 34-10 loss to Georgia Tech, but that it "was against lesser people," meaning Tech's reserves after the game got out of hand.