Terps face their past in spring game

April 16, 1993|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- Some of his friends have questioned his sanity, but Kevin Benson isn't worried about playing football against kids half his age.

Benson, 60 other former Maryland players and Jerry Claiborne, the coach from 1972 through 1981, answered the call for the first Varsity-Alumni spring football game here in 33 years. Benson, who turns 39 next month, and his mostly younger teammates will provide the opposition for coach Mark Duffner and the current Terps tomorrow (1 p.m.) at Byrd Stadium.

Admission is free.

Benson played linebacker for the Terps from 1972-1975, when they went to the Peach, Liberty and Gator bowls, but he's not over the hill. Benson also wrestled for Maryland, finishing as high as third in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and he recently entered two tournaments. Nonetheless, it's been a while since he put on pads and a helmet.

"Most of the people that have known about this think I'm nuts," said Benson, a salesman who lives in Germantown. "Everyone says to my wife, 'Are you going to let him do that?' This is going to be fun."

Duffner is aware that some of the younger alumni are taking tomorrow's game quite seriously, and while tomorrow offers his players a chance to show gains made over the last month, he's also interested in building a bridge to Maryland's past.

"This gives the current team the opportunity to link up with teams and players of the past," Duffner said. "You can put faces to legends."

Bobby Ross, the coach from 1982 to 1986, was the featured speaker for a high school coaches clinic that drew more than 350 last month. Now Claiborne, who was at Kentucky from 1982-1989 , will lead the nostalgia movement.

Kicks and punts won't be returned, but otherwise there will be game conditions. Claiborne has Dan Henning (1987) and Jim Sandwisch (1991) available at quarterback; offensive linemen Dave Pacella (1982) and J. D. Maarleveld (1985); Dale Castro (1981) and Dan DeArmas (1991) for the kicking game; and linebackers Richie Petitbon (1988) and Rick Carlson (1968).

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