Sabelhaus may ask Florida for release Unhappy with Spurrier, ex-McDonogh QB mulls taking talents to Terps

August 03, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

Former McDonogh School star quarterback Bobby Sabelhaus said he will not report to the University of Florida for the start of practice next week and is strongly considering asking for a release from his scholarship so he can pursue football possibilities with other schools -- including Maryland.

Sabelhaus, a 1994 Gatorade All-American and The Baltimore Sun's 1994 Player of the Year, declined to speak about any other schools he's considering, but his father, Robert, said he and his son have discussed Maryland and several other programs.

Sabelhaus redshirted at Florida last year and struggled in practice this spring.

Gators coach Steve Spurrier, whose expertise with young quarterbacks originally attracted Sabelhaus to Florida, changed the quarterback's throwing motion in March and Sabelhaus quickly dropped to last on Florida's depth chart.

Sabelhaus, 6 feet 5, 230 pounds, returned home in May to work on his throwing with Dom Damico, his high school coach. Robert Sabelhaus said Spurrier approved of the decision to return to Maryland and the two coaches reached a compromise on how the young quarterback should throw the ball.

Bobby said he's throwing the ball better than ever now and is eager to get back to big-time college football. Sabelhaus said he will not rush his decision but would like to make up his mind about returning to Florida by the start of classes in late August.

"When I went down there, it just wasn't a perfect fit," Sabelhaus said. "As the year went on, I wasn't playing the way I know I can play. I wasn't competing. I couldn't stand it. I couldn't understand why I was playing like that.

"If I go back there, then I want to compete. Right now it's probably 80-20 that I don't go back. Wherever I go, I want to go out like a fireball and win a job. It's a big decision for me. Right now, I'm not thinking about alternative plans. I'm really worried about the decision at hand with Florida."

On Tuesday, Robert Sabelhaus informed Spurrier of his son's decision not to report on time and Bobby said his coach told him to take as much time as he needed. But Spurrier told the Associated Press that he got the impression Sabelhaus was planning to leave Florida for good.

"Every indication I get is that he's not planning on coming back," Spurrier said. "This is not any strange development. He hasn't been here all summer and hadn't been in contact with anyone."

Robert Sabelhaus said there "was no warmth" between his son and Spurrier. He described their relationship as "on a professional level." Bobby said he likes Spurrier and the Florida program, but the changes in his throwing motion hurt his confidence and lowered his spirits.

Sabelhaus threw for 1,993 yards and 16 touchdowns his senior year of high school and was named the top prep quarterback in the country by SuperPrep Magazine prior to the 1994 season. He led McDonogh to a 22-3 record over three years, and it was MIAA runner-up in his senior season.

If Sabelhaus, who can throw a ball 75 yards in the air, leaves, he will have to sit out one season before playing again. The state record holder for career yards (5,826) and completions (353) has discussed five possible schools with his father: Maryland, Ohio State, Colorado, Virginia and Michigan. Of that group, only Virginia and Colorado didn't actively recruit Sabelhaus in high school.

"Right now we don't have a favorite," Robert Sabelhaus said. "We're pretty open-minded. We can't explore any possibilities until we get a release. We can't talk to any coaches yet. I think we'd like to get going with other schools as soon as possible, but we're not sure yet."

Sabelhaus did not take an official visit to Maryland in 1994 because of the limited number of trips a player can take and the proximity of the school. He did meet with Maryland coach Mark Duffner, though, and Robert Sabelhaus said his son's girlfriend attends James Madison University in Virginia, a factor that could influence a possible decision to pick a school close to home, should he leave Florida.

"We know Coach Duffner very well," Robert Sabelhaus said. "He's been to our house and I like him very much. Nobody is more enthusiastic about football. I know he was very interested in Bobby [during the recruiting process], but I don't know about now. We talked about Maryland last week. He's a great guy and they throw the ball a lot. Certainly Maryland is a possibility."

Pub Date: 8/03/96

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