Fowlkes leads Terps' defensive charge

February 03, 1994|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff Writer Contributing writer Steven Kivinski provided information for this article.

Latroy Fowlkes is a typical Maryland recruit.

The Terps received letters of intent from 22 players yesterday, the start of the seven-day signing period. Like Fowlkes, 14 of them are high school seniors. Like Fowlkes, at least 14 are defensive prospects. And like Fowlkes, all of them come to Maryland with an assortment of honors.

After orally committing to the Terps last month, Fowlkes ignored a strong pitch from Penn State's Joe Paterno. Fowlkes, a linebacker from North County who was The Baltimore Sun's Defensive Player of the Year, was sold early on Maryland and coach Mark Duffner. He's among the defensive recruits who watched the Terps struggles of 1993 and saw a chance to play in 1994.

"That was the biggest factor," Fowlkes said. "I was attracted by the chance to play big-time football right away, and the opportunity to play for my home state."

Rated one of the nation's top three inside linebacking prospects by one recruiting service, Fowlkes (6 feet, 240 pounds) is the first player from North County to sign with Maryland. The school was opened after the consolidation of Andover and Brooklyn Park, and alumni of both schools couldn't remember either sending a scholarship football player to Maryland.

TH The other local to sign with the Terps is reviving a tradition at an

other Anne Arundel County school. Richard Abrams is a defensive lineman out of Arundel, which earlier sent All-ACC defensive lineman Chris Cowdrey, record-setting running back Lou Carter and defensive back Sam Johnson to Maryland.

Abrams signed with the Terps a year ago and practiced with them last August before a check of his transcript turned up a ninth-grade algebra course that the NCAA determined couldn't be used toward the core grade-point average needed for freshman eligibility.

Running back Chaney Milner and defensive lineman Cornelius White, who like Abrams signed a year ago, entered Maryland last month and re-signed yesterday. Two of the five junior-college transfers, linebackers Robert Moore and Gary Talbot, also entered Maryland last month. All four will participate in spring practice, which begins March 28.

The Terps received oral commitments from 24 players, but junior college cornerback Jermaine Smith instead signed with East Carolina and Todd Stewart, a defensive back from Washington, D.C., won't decide until after his official visit to Maryland this weekend.

Brad Rhodes might be the most important name on the list. He's a kicker from Gulfport, Miss., who hit six field goals longer than 40 yards for St. John High.

For the second straight year, experts are placing the Terps' recruiting class among the top 25 in the nation, but last year's group lost some of its punch when kicker Lonny Calicchio, a junior college All-American, never got his associate's degree. There were no complaints about the punting of quarterback Scott Milanovich last season, but the Terps' place-kicking was a problem.

"I feel real good about this group," Duffner said. "They'll give us help in the areas where we need assistance. You always hold a scholarship or two for kids who are waiting for test scores or haven't made up their mind yet, so we're still in the hunt for a couple of other kids."

In other signing news: All-Metro kicker Mark Kiefer of St. Mary's went with Villanova; Mount St. Joe running back Eddie Pailen will attend Lafayette; Morgan State's group included City running back Rickey Dangerfield; and North County wide receiver Teon Carter is headed to Division II Central Oklahoma.

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