Back in the game plan Terps: With less emphasis on the run-and-shoot, tight ends are getting a shot again.

August 14, 1996|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Chad Wiestling moved to linebacker, Eric Ogbogu to defensive end and Erik Henry to Boston University.

Maryland hasn't been much of a home for tight ends since 1992, when coach Mark Duffner took over and brought in the run-and-shoot. The position -- and Maryland's ground game -- became a black hole, but the tight end has returned in Duffner's pursuit of offensive balance and wins.

"The run-and-shoot put points on the board and it was good entertainment," quarterback Brian Cummings said, "but it's tough running the ball with one back and four wide receivers."

After the run-and-shoot fizzled last October, Duffner and his staff sneaked in a fullback to get by N.C. State and clinch a winning season. More blocking beef was added in the spring, when Cummings and company were introduced to Tim Brown and Josh Hough, who figure to split time at tight end this season.

Brown and Hough have several bonds. In the spring, they realized that they had played against each other in junior college. Now, both wonder how they'll fit in.

"There are a lot of opportunities for us to get a good number of plays, if we can get the job done," Hough said. "If we get decent yardage on first down, maybe you'll see a lot of two tight ends in short-yardage situations. But if it's third-and-seven. . . ."

The Terps haven't completely abandoned the run-and-shoot, and they still can flood a secondary with four receivers, but the emphasis is on more and better blockers. Buddy Rodgers, the featured back last year, could alternate between the two backfield positions, sharing time with Brian Underwood at tailback and Mario Chavez at fullback.

Brown and Hough could end up as a 500-pound messenger system, shuttling in the plays. They only can be compared to each other, because there is no tight end in Maryland's recent past to use as a yardstick.

Maryland hasn't had a standout there since Ferrell Edmunds in 1987. Wiestling, now a graduate assistant coach, led the tight ends in catches in 1991, Joe Krivak's last year as coach, but was shifted to linebacker when Duffner came in with the run-and-shoot.

Duffner used tight ends in short-yardage situations, but Maryland completed only three passes to them over the last four seasons, all in 1994. Henry had two catches, then transferred to Boston U. Ogbogu caught a pass against Clemson as a freshman, then became a full-time defensive player and an all-ACC end last year.

Hough's resume includes two catches as a short-yardage tight end as a senior at Waynesboro (Pa.) Area High, where he made his mark as a defensive tackle. At Valley Forge Military Academy, he played defensive end, but Maryland is well-stocked there. After being redshirted last fall, he didn't think twice about the switch.

"When they came to me, I was excited, because it was an opportunity to play more," Hough said. "I think I'm doing a good job blocking, but I need to work on my pass routes, learn how to clear a path for myself and avoid a linebacker."

Brown doesn't mind sharing the position, because it's what he did at Nassau (N.Y.) Community College the last two years. He played tight end as a high school junior, but finished his prep career as a 200-pound quarterback. He passed on football in his first year at Nassau, and had to grow into the position over the last two seasons.

"I still need to get physically stronger," said Brown, 242 pounds. "I played in a pro-style offense at Nassau, and picked up the offense pretty quickly in the spring, but there's a lot to learn. They're installing a lot of stuff."

Including a tight end or two.

NOTES: Freshman Sean Starner, expected to challenge for the punting job, has been approved to practice by the NCAA's Eligibility Clearinghouse, which was reviewing his high school transcript. Starner, from Mechanicsburg, Pa., is Maryland's only scholarship punter. Walk-on Russell Edwards punted in the first four games last year. Darin Young, another walk-on, ended yesterday morning's practice with a kick that traveled more than 55 yards. Wide receiver Moises Cruz, a freshman who went to Seneca Valley High, also did some punting in Starner's absence.

The Terps are awaiting word from the Eligibility Clearinghouse on Malik Campbell, their only incoming quarterback. . . . Tight end hasn't been exactly a stronghold in the Atlantic Coast Conference. One player was nominated for all-ACC tight end last year. . . . The first four days of practice have been relatively injury free. Terence Neil, a walk-on defensive back, fractured his right fibula and dislocated his right ankle Monday. Reserve cornerback Ernest Grier has a sprained ankle.

Pub Date: 8/14/96

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