The best back in the state this season may be another giant at Towson State

The Inside Stuff

September 10, 1992|By Bill Tanton

The best college back in the state this football season may be a man who has never played a down for his school and is unknown at this moment even to most of his classmates at Towson State. His name: Tony Vinson.

Vinson is a 6-2, 215-pound running back with great speed and balance and excellent hands. He's a transfer from Purdue, where he started 16 games in his freshman and sophomore seasons. He's a junior at Towson now.

I saw Vinson scrimmage against Salisbury State last week. He's one of those rare backs you see carry the ball once, and you know he's something special.

If Vinson stays healthy, starting Saturday at 1 o'clock when Towson opens at Rhode Island, he'll be the Tigers' best back since Dave Meggett, now a star with the New York Giants.

"Tony is definitely the best we've had since Meggett," says first-year Towson coach Gordy Combs. "A running back like Tony opens up the passing game for us. Opponents can't load up against us on pass defense.

"Tony is an excellent pass receiver himself. He ran indoor track for us last winter and set a school record for the 200 meters with a 22.92."

How did a player like this end up at Towson State?

Purdue got a new coach, Jim Colletto, who decided to switch Vinson to wide-out. Vinson wanted to remain a tailback, so he transferred to a school in his own state.

Vinson's family lives in Accokeck, in Prince George's county. Tony, an Army brat, grew up and went to high school (Denbigh) in Newport News, Va.

* Navy has not had a winning football season in nine years, but when the Midshipmen open their season at home against Virginia Saturday night at 7 o'clock at least two Cavalier coaches -- head man George Welsh and offensive coordinator Tom O'Brien -- are certain they're in for a 60-minute battle.

Said O'Brien yesterday: "George and I are Naval Academy graduates. We understand how hard those kids are going to play." Neither Welsh nor O'Brien was shocked last year when their team struggled to beat the Mids, 17-10.

* Before we declare Maryland football coach Mark Duffner the second coming of Knute Rockne, which he may indeed turn out to be, let's not forget one thing:

Joe Krivak's Maryland teams beat Virginia the last two years. Duffner lost to Virginia, 28-15, last Saturday night in his Terp debut.

People who attended the Maryland-Virginia game tell me the '92 Terps are playing with more emotion. When I told Duffner that this week he said: "Thanks, but we're going to need execution, too." They will indeed against North Carolina State Saturday.

* I thought Baltimore sports talk show callers were fickle, nominating Johnny Oates for Manager of the Year after an Oriole victory, calling for his scalp after a loss, until I heard callers in D.C. this week. After one opening game loss to Dallas, Redskin fans are in a panic -- over a team that is the NFL's defending champion.

* It's hard to decide which is more unseemly, the greedy and egomaniacal baseball owners' forcing out a good man as commissioner or the well-publicized feud (see September Baltimore Magazine) between Pimlico/Laurel owner Joe De Francis and the Manfuso brothers, Tom and Bob. Both conflicts have dragged their sports down.

* The nightly sellouts at Oriole Park at Camden Yards have the owners of four other clubs salivating -- the ones who can't wait to open their new ballparks in 1994-95.

Texas and Cleveland will play in their new stadiums in '94, and Colorado and the Brewers will be in theirs in '95. All four parks will be open air with natural grass, seating capacities under 50,000 and a blend of modern luxuries in an old setting designed to deliver nostalgia.

Milwaukee's new park is patterned after Brooklyn's Ebbets Field. Does all this sound familiar? And if you were building a new ball park, wouldn't you copy the Baltimore bonanza in every detail? The four new ones probably wish they had a warehouse hovering over their place.

* Oriole fans must think Stanford is the No. 1 college producer of big-league talent, what with Mike Mussina, Jeffrey Hammonds and, from a few years back, Pete Stanicek having come from that school.

Stanford, however, is only tied for fourth with eight grads now on big-league 40-man rosters. UCLA is tops with 13. Then come Arizona, with 10, and Cal State Fullerton with nine.

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