Wycheck leaves Terps for NFL Phased-out H-back to forgo senior year

November 18, 1992|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- Junior receiver Frank Wycheck, Maryland's career leader in receptions, said yesterday that he will forgo his senior season of eligibility and enter the NFL draft in April.

Wycheck said he had been thinking about leaving Maryland since the end of his sophomore year. He said his final decision largely was based on the lack of playing time this season, and improving his family's financial situation. Wycheck has an 18-month-old daughter, Deanna.

"This wasn't a snap decision, one that was made from ignorance, greed or hard feelings toward Maryland or Coach Duffner," said Wycheck, who met with Maryland coach Mark Duffner for nearly 90 minutes yesterday. "People who might say that, well, they don't know my situation personally.

"This is an excellent opportunity for me," said Wycheck. "I have talked to quite a few people -- alumni, scouts, my parents -- and it has been a well-thought-out process. I wouldn't make this move if I wasn't truly confident in my ability, especially since I have a family. Coach Duffner wants me to stay, but he has said he will support me in my decision."

Duffner would not comment yesterday, but said he would continue to meet with Wycheck. Wycheck said he had begun to fill out NFL applications that must be in the league office before Jan. 6.

Wycheck, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound H-back/tight end, was the focus of Maryland's one-back offensive set under former coach Joe Krivak during the 1990 and 1991 seasons.

In 1990, Wycheck led the Atlantic Coast Conference in receptions with 58 for 509 yards and a touchdown, including a Maryland record of 14 catches against Virginia Tech.

A year later, as a sophomore, Wycheck had 45 receptions to lead the team and finish second in the conference. He was named second-team All-ACC, and caught more passes in his first two seasons than any other player in conference history.

But his role changed this season. Duffner brought the run-and-shoot from Holy Cross to Maryland. The offense uses four wide receivers and has no tight end or H-back.

In the early part of this season, Wycheck basically was used only in short-yardage situations. He became more involved in the offense around midseason.

Due to injuries, Duffner was forced to play Wycheck at superback, where he started the last three games of the season. Wycheck twice rushed for more than 100 yards, including 162 in the season finale against Clemson, a 53-23 Maryland victory.

"I feel like I really never got into the flow of the offense," said Wycheck, who had 17 catches in the first eight games. "The last three games were great, but I'm a tight end type more than a running back.

"Now, I feel it's time to move on to the next level," said Wycheck. "It's not just important to me, but to my family, Deanna and my girlfriend, Cherryn. Cherryn is going to nursing school, and it's important for me to help out. This is a great opportunity for me to get ahead in life."

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Wycheck can play in the NFL, but that he probably wouldn't be drafted until the late rounds.

"I've always advised any player that, if you're not going to be drafted in the first round, then stay in school, because there's no guarantee you can make the club," said Kiper. "A potential fifth-, sixth- or seventh-rounder can always work his way up. In Frank's case, though, it's different. He's in an offense that doesn't use an H-back or tight end.

"What is he going to do, beat out Mark Mason, Larry Washington or Doug Burnett next year at that lone running back position? Right now, there aren't a lot of pro personnel aware that he's coming out. Also, who cares, because he's not a first-round pick. He'll probably go late, and he'll have to end up with the right team like Washington, Phoenix or Minnesota, which use H-backs.

"This guy has great hands, and he could start at H-back or be a No. 2 tight end," Kiper said. "He could be the blocking back on short-yardage situations, or he could be a very good special teams player. He's versatile."

One former player who agreed with Wycheck's decision is New England Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who threw most of those passes to Wycheck in the 1990 season.

"I've talked with Frank a couple of times, and I don't fault his decision if they're not going to utilize his talents," said Zolak. "Frank has definitely got the talent to play in this league. He's got all the intangibles: great hands, runs great routes, decent speed and makes good decisions.

"There are a number of teams in this league still using tight ends," said Zolak. "The Patriots, Dallas, Miami, Tampa Bay, the Eagles. All Frank has to do is go to the scouting combine, get one team interested in him, and he'll make it."

If he doesn't make a pro team, Wycheck said he will get his degree. He also stressed that he had no hard feelings toward Duffner.

"This is just a business and personal decision that I feel is best right now," said Wycheck. "It was a great year for Maryland football, even if I didn't play as much as years past. The team showed a lot of character and a lot of poise. Coach Duffner helped me a lot. He helped renew my enthusiasm for the game.

"After this semester, I'll be about 27 to 30 credits short of a degree," said Wycheck, a criminal justice major with a 2.5 grade-point average. "I will, and I repeat, I will get my degree.

"If I don't make it in the NFL, I'll come back as a fifth-year senior and get it. It's just going to get put on hold for a little while. But I didn't come to Maryland just to play football, I came here to get a degree."

Wycheck's stats

Year.. .. ..Rec... .. ..Yds... ..TD.. .. ..Long

1990.. .. ..58.. .. .. .509.. .. .1.. .. .. .31

1991.. .. ..45.. .. .. .438.. .. .1.. .. .. .35

1992.. .. ..31.. .. .. .236.. .. .1.. .. .. .30

Totals.. ..134.. .. .. 1,183.. ...3.. .. .. .35

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