Last fall, Brian Cummings was the third quarterback on Maryland's depth chart. Figuring that he might have to wait until 1997 for a chance to be the Terps' starter, Cummings considered transferring to a smaller school or concentrating on baseball.
Step out of the shadows, Brian, and into the spotlight.
Cummings moved up a notch last winter when proven backup Kevin Foley, the disenchanted loser in a quarterback controversy, transferred to Boston University. Two days ago, when the NCAA shocked Maryland by extending Scott Milanovich's gambling suspension from two to eight games, Cummings became the Terps' only experienced quarterback and a starter by default.
"Everything came down so quickly," said Cummings, a redshirt sophomore. "Scott and Kevin are both real good quarterbacks, and when they were both here, it was a pretty bad situation as far as playing time. At the time, I thought a lot about baseball, or transferring.
"After Kevin left, I began to think about taking over in my junior year. I knew for sure that I would be ready by then. Instead, I'll have to be ready now. Give me the reps and practice with the first team, and my experience and confidence will go up. Hopefully, I can make the best of a bad situation."
Cummings likely is Maryland's quarterback at least into October, and possibly all season. He's confident, despite wearing a knee brace and standing only 5 feet 11 and weighing 190 pounds. It's nearly the same build of John Kaleo, the first quarterback to take the run-and-shoot offense into the Terps record book, in 1992.
"John wasn't a big guy, but he did all right," Cummings said. "I'd never compare myself to him, but I wouldn't mind that happening one day."
A run-and-shoot quarterback at Iona (N.Y.) Prep, Cummings doesn't go into next season entirely inexperienced. He directed an all-freshman backfield in the Terps' short-yardage offense last season. He ran 15 times for 63 yards and four touchdowns, which tied for the team lead.
Cummings didn't throw a pass last season, but he showed plenty of arm in the spring, when he led the Maryland baseball team in pitching wins. With the Maryland Bombers, an under-20 team, he is 6-0 with four shutouts and a no-hitter.
The Bombers are contending for a berth in the All American Amateur Baseball Association tournament in Johnstown, Pa., starting Aug. 12. That's two days after Maryland veterans are supposed to report to training camp, and Cummings had considered pitching a game in the AAABA.
"I had hoped to get a day or two off from football, but now that's going to be tough," Cummings said.
Cummings will be joined in camp by two incoming freshmen, and cornerback Orlando Strozier may become the short-yardage quarterback. The penalty against Milanovich also leaves Duffner looking for a punter.