COLLEGE PARK -- Larry Washington entered Maryland under the burden of great expectations. That pressure hasn't lessened, and last year it was intensified by events that affected his family, his health and his future as a college football player.
"This is like a new beginning for me," Washington said before the Terps opened practice yesterday. "I've made some mistakes and been through a lot of things the last year. I didn't give any serious thought to quitting, but sometimes I didn't think it was worth it."
Washington arrived two years ago as one of the most talented running backs to come out of the Baltimore area. State championships are rare for local high schools in the bigger classifications, but Washington led Randallstown to the Class 4A title in 1990, when he rushed for 2,275 yards. He was The Baltimore Sun's Male Athlete of the Year, and the climb $l continued at Maryland, where he played as a true freshman.
Washington's life changed greatly in 1992, however.
A year ago today, then-first-year coach Mark Duffner suspended Washington for his involvement in the use of credit cards stolen by another Maryland player, Kevin Washington.
Charged with felony forgery of a credit card, Larry Washington agreed to probation before judgment. He was placed on one year's unsupervised probation, required to make restitution of $652.14 and serve 40 hours of community service, which he fulfilled doing maintenance work at a courthouse in Prince George's County.
"I regret the whole thing," Washington said. "It was a big mistake that I got involved in that, but that situation is behind me."
Kevin Washington, a Dunbar graduate who could not be reached for comment for this article, was permanently suspended by Duffner and left Maryland. But Larry Washington, no relation, was allowed back after serving a two-game suspension. Three weeks later against Pitt, on a 12-yard run that ended his best college game and his sophomore season, he severely injured his right knee.
Before Washington underwent reconstructive knee surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament, there was the birth of a son. Jordan Nicholas Washington was born Oct. 24, 1992, to Kimberly Davis, a Maryland senior from Silver Spring.
"That's been hard, helping take care of him," Washington said. "I was thinking of taking this semester off and working, but she [Davis] didn't want me to do that."
Washington is behind in the battle for playing time at superback that is led by Mark Mason, one of the nation's top all-purpose producers. Even if he had been physically well enough to participate in spring practice, Washington wouldn't have been able to, because the university's Office of Judicial Programs in December barred him from participating in football for six months after reviewing the credit card case.
The rehabilitation of his knee limited his activity, and Washington, 5 feet 11, ballooned to 234 pounds in June. He since has lost 15 pounds, and passed Thursday's conditioning test of sprint intervals. His playing weight is 210.
"I think the knee injury woke him up a little bit," said John Buchheister, his high school coach who remains an influence. "He had a difficult transition to college, but he's a year older and he realizes his college career is halfway over."
Washington's academic situation is another concern. He needs to receive an A or B grade in a criminal justice course he's taking in summer school to be eligible this season. Duffner is expecting him to be available.
"Larry and I have talked about a lot of situations a lot of times," Duffner said. "The talking is over with. He's anxious to be on this field and be a producer. We're counting on him heavily."
Mason and Doug Burnett, who also had their 1992 seasons cut short by injury, are listed above Washington on the depth chart, but Duffner said there's playing time for all.
"I know we're going to be playing in three weeks," Washington said. "It's been a long way coming back, but I'll be ready."
NOTES: A total of 106 players were on hand for yesterday's first full-squad practice. Morning sessions will be split into two groups through Wednesday, the first the Terps are scheduled to be in pads. . . . Activity was limited for several injured players, including senior LB Chad Wiestling (hamstring pull), junior S Angel Guerra (hamstring pull) and freshman LB Mike Gillespie (knee sprain). . . . Gillespie, a transfer from Georgia Tech, hurt his knee in testing Thursday night, and if his condition doesn't improve, he'll undergo an arthroscopic exam later this week. . . . Junior RB Kameron Williams, who missed all of last season with a bone injury to his torso, didn't sound optimistic when asked if he'd be fit to play this season. . . . Senior DL Madison Bradley, who's waiting to see if he'll be eligible after missing the spring semester, is recuperating from a back injury, and is on a personalized conditioning program.