COLLEGE PARK -- The University of Maryland coaching staff has seen enough of freshman running back Larry Washington during the season to decide he's ready for prime time.
Roll the Washington highlight film, please:
The first time Washington, from Randallstown High, touched the ball, he returned a kickoff 30 yards in the third game of the season. Two weeks ago, against Pittsburgh, he swept around right end, hurdled one defender, went through another while airborne, landed on his feet and ran 5 more yards for a 13-yard gain.
Last Saturday against Wake Forest, Washington caught a pass in the right flat and was about to be blindsided. The tackler bounced off, and Washington ran for 7 yards. Washington played in Maryland's final four possessions against Wake Forest, as the Terps scored two touchdowns and a field goal in a 23-22, come-from-behind win.
Enough. Larry Washington has to play now.
"He'll get in about 20 to 28 plays a game," said Maryland coach Joe Krivak. who had nothing but praise for Washington after Saturday's game. "He's still young, and the body needs a rest after handling the ball so much."
Washington, 5 feet 11 and 205 pounds, is listed as No. 3 behind redshirt freshman starter Doug Burnett and senior Troy Jackson on the depth chart -- sophomore running back and former starter Mark Mason is out with a fractured right leg -- for Saturday's homecoming game against Duke (1:30 p.m.). But Krivak is trying to keep the freshman away from pressure, while also trying to pacify some of the older players.
It's no secret that neither Burnett nor Jackson possess the power of Washington. He's the first true power back with acceleration in the five years Krivak has coached the team.
"He got us going, broke some tackles and made some plays," said team captain and senior center Mitch Suplee. "I've been around for a little while and I've seen a lot of freshmen, but I'm impressed with his maturity. I take my hat off to him. It's hard to believe he's only 18."
Running backs coach Paul Castonia said: "Sometimes, I just sit back and go, 'Whew.' Imagine what this kid is going to be like with a year of weight training and a little more speed under his belt."
Washington arrived at College Park with prep All-America honors and was the prize catch of a banner recruiting class after rushing for what is believed to be a state record of 2,275 yards and 36 touchdowns at Randallstown.
But Washington was slowed by a bruised foot hurt in the Big 33 high school all-star game and missed the week of freshman practice.
More important, he was about 17 pounds overweight from not working out because of the injury.
It jokingly earned Washington the nickname "Dough," as in "Doughboy," from his teammates. This may have frustrated a lot of freshmen, but not Washington. He said that once he started practicing, he would show that he "was the best."
Confidence yes, arrogance no.
The two sometimes are confused when it comes to Washington. He's not a big socializer and he answers questions in quick, short sentences. And he walks with a certain swagger.
"I really only talk to people I'm close with," he said. "I wouldn't consider myself cocky, but people are always going to talk about you, and that happens when you're good.
"But I'm not going to worry about that. I'm here to get my grades up, get an education and become a better football player. I've always had confidence in myself. This week, I hope to get a lot of playing time. I'd like to get more than 100 yards," Washington said.
Washington doesn't even talk to Castonia much, which Castonia doesn't mind -- as long as Washington gets results.
"You ask him if he's ready to play. He just says, 'Put me in,' " Castonia said.
NOTES: Starting senior DT Lubo Zizakovic (herniated disk) will not play Saturday. Junior Darren Drozdov is expected to start in his place.
Krivak said there's a good chance true freshman RB Raphael Wall, from Wilde Lake, will play for the first time within the next 5 games.
Larry Washington game by game
Did not play
Did not play
* 1 rush, 2 yards
* 2 kickoff returns, 42 yards
* 4 rushes, 20 yards
* 5 rushes, 3 yards
* 2 kickoff returns, 27 yards
* 7 rushes, 34 yards
* 2 receptions, 27 yards