A Terp's Travail

October 28, 1994|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- Two hundred ninety-two yards.

One touchdown.

An afternoon's work in high school is all Larry Washington has to show for his college football career. Maryland will celebrate homecoming tomorrow, but Washington wants no part of the pageant. His Terps days are over, disrupted by an arrest, an injury, wavering incentive and -- primary in his view -- a coaching change.

His controversial departure from the team came in August. Washington is 25 pounds over his desired playing weight, but right now he's more concerned with raising his grade-point average to a level that will allow him to transfer and play elsewhere next season.

He still thinks he can play in the NFL, and should his path lead there, it most likely will include a detour through either Morgan State or Towson State.

What went wrong?

"I think the coaching staff, mostly," Washington said. "I should have gotten out of Maryland when Coach [Joe] Krivak left. My problems with the law and everything, I just got off on a bad foot with Coach [Mark] Duffner."

Washington's story is not that simple. It's one he recounted earlier this week, with his girlfriend Kim, a Maryland graduate, and their son Jordan, 2, at his side.

College Park is the first stop where Washington didn't excel. He played high school sports at Loyola and Dulaney before moving to Randallstown, and anyone who watched him carry the Rams to a state Class 4A title in 1990 never figured he would be a bust.

"He was like a man playing with boys," said Krivak, the head coach when Maryland recruited Washington.

Washington wasn't just a record-setting tailback for the Rams, but also a basketball and baseball standout who was recognized as the area's premier athlete. Some called Washington the best running back prospect ever to come out of the Baltimore area, and Maryland beat Clemson, Georgia Tech, Michigan and Tennessee for his services.

A power runner, Washington had a promising freshman season, which concluded with Krivak being fired. Washington blames Duffner for his potential going unfulfilled, but was the head coach to blame for some events in Washington's sophomore year that hastened his downfall?

In August 1992, Washington and another Maryland football player from Baltimore, Kevin Washington, no relation, were involved in the theft of a credit card.

Larry Washington agreed to probation before judgment on a charge of felony forgery of a credit card, and was required to make restitution of $652.14. It was two months before the birth of his son. Some of his illegal credit card purchases went for children's clothing, but Washington also bought jeans and tennis shoes.

He was suspended for Maryland's first two games of 1992, but Washington played a pivotal role in Duffner's first victory with the Terps, a 47-34 win over Pittsburgh. His seventh carry against Pitt was his last of the season, however, as Washington tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Adding insult to injury

An ACL tear can be a severe, possibly career-threatening injury, and Washington's rehabilitation from reconstructive knee surgery was hampered when a campus disciplinary board barred him from participating in football for six months because of his felony charge.

Five feet 11 and currently 230 pounds, Washington was up to 234 in June 1993. Minor ailments limited his availability last season, but he says he should have played more. A carry for no gain at Georgia Tech on Oct. 9, 1993, was Washington's last in a Terps uniform; he missed the last five games with injuries.

Washington said he had a good month of practice last spring,

but so did Allen Williams and Brian Underwood, competitors for the superback spot. A month later, Washington talked of transferring in an article in the Terrapin Times. Sources said that if Washington had a 2.0 grade-point average, which is required of transfers, he would be playing now for Towson State.

Washington, who has been released by Maryland and is eligible to transfer, was asked if he had been fully committed to play for Maryland.

"I was until I hurt my knee," Washington said. "Afterward, I had some problems running the ball. I wasn't having fun anymore. It's not like I had a chance to be a starter. . . . Come summertime, I didn't have a chance to work out much. I was going to summer school, trying to get eligible, plus taking care of my son.

"I wasn't sure if I was going to play this year anyway."

Washington said only a successful appeal, similar to one he received last year, would have made him academically eligible to play this season.

In August, he was allowed to miss some morning practices because of summer school. He also missed four full days with a toe injury and fell further down the depth chart.

Clouded departure

When Washington was absent from practice and had no communication with the coaching staff for three days, Duffner announced he had quit the team.

Washington tells a different story.

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