Terps' Ingram lays it on the line Jr. tackle anchors offensive buildup

September 25, 1993|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Steve Ingram is the anchor of a Maryland offensive line that hasn't gotten its due this season, but he's confident that recognition will come sometime soon, preferably from the NFL.

Quarterback Scott Milanovich and wide receiver Jermaine Lewis have racked up some astonishing statistics in the Terps' first three games, but an overlooked factor in the passing game's success has been the play of left tackle Ingram and the rest of the line. Among a group that occupies a lot of space but doesn't make much noise, Ingram is the largest and quietest.

"I'm not a rah-rah guy," Ingram said. "Away from football, I'll joke and play, but here, I'm serious."

Ingram's approach will come in handy today, when Maryland (0-3) faces another challenge in a non-conference game at Virginia Tech (2-1). The Hokies lost to Miami, 21-2, last week, but their defense registered five sacks and, after surrendering an 85-yard touchdown drive on the game's first possession, limited the Hurricanes to 248 yards the rest of the way.

Five is also the number of times Milanovich has been dropped in three games, despite attempting 137 passes.

"The offensive line has been phenomenal," Milanovich said. "The difference between the offense this year and last year is the time I'm getting that John [Kaleo] didn't."

Milanovich's blind side has been ably protected by Ingram, a fifth-year junior who might leave Maryland before his eligibility is up. Ingram is on track to get a degree in Criminal Justice in the spring, and he'll decide then if he's going to play for the Terps in 1994 or test the NFL draft.

"I'm here for two years as of today," Ingram said. "That could change tomorrow . . . I want to go to the next level eventually, but I have no desire to leave right now. In 1995, there will be the two expansion teams. Maybe I'd be a first-rounder by then."

Ingram has studied the situation, and done nearly everything in his power to prepare for a professional chance. He spent the spring and summer "working like it's my senior year," and added bulk was one goal. He's adamant about his weight, which is listed as 283 pounds in the media guide. For the record, Ingram is 6 feet 5 and usually over 300 pounds.

Ingram's decision won't be a hasty one. His Terps career has had many starts and stops, and this would be the first time he's had two straight uninterrupted seasons on the offensive line.

"Obviously, the guy has got the talent, but fundamentally, he's just beginning to look the part" said Dan Dorazio, Maryland's offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. "He plays with good balance and demeanor, and he understands leverage. When Steve strikes a blow, it's a good one.

"The guy is focused in every way, and he wants to be the best. He's a very mature person."

Dozens of freshmen and sophomores are getting on-the-job training with the Terps this season, and Ingram remembers when he too was a Not Ready For Prime Time Player.

Ingram is one of three current starters still around from the recruiting class that entered Maryland in 1989, the others being wide receiver Jason Kremus and outside linebacker Jaime Flores.

The Steve Ingram that signed with Maryland out of DuVal High in Prince George's County weighed 235 pounds and also was a basketball standout. He practiced at defensive tackle as a true freshman, but with Larry Webster holding down the interior through 1991, Ingram was moved to offense.

He filled in at all four guard and tackle spots as a red-shirt freshman in 1990. The 1991 opener against Virginia saw Ingram go down with a fractured right fibula that ended his season, but in retrospect, it wasn't a bad break.

"My life changed when I broke my leg," Ingram said. "I broke the fibula and tore a tendon in the ankle on the same play, and it was a long road back. I learned that football can be taken away from me very suddenly."

He's been a constant on a still-developing offensive line that received some minor tuning in the off-season. Junior Jade Dubis moved from left guard to center; junior Jamie Bragg became a full-time offensive player and starter at center; right guard Dave Hack regained his eligibility after sitting out 1992; and John Teter moved up after getting one start last season.

While the Maryland offense has produced beyond expectations, the defense has given up more yardage than any in the nation, and its beleaguered condition worsened yesterday. Inside linebacker Chad Wiestling sustained torn cartilage in his left knee Thursday, underwent arthroscopic surgery yesterday, and is out indefinitely.

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