Sabelhaus' only option may be junior college Lack of Div. 1-A offers alters ex-McDonogh QB's strategy

September 18, 1996|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Two years ago, Bobby Sabelhaus was one of the nation's top quarterback prospects, but now the former McDonogh School star is looking at junior college as a way to make it back to Division I-A.

A Parade All-American, Sabelhaus signed a letter of intent with Florida in February 1995. Unhappy with his role and performance with the Southeastern Conference power, Sabelhaus received his release from coach Steve Spurrier last month.

Sabelhaus had hoped to hook on with another program by now, but overtures to Maryland received little response, and other schools did not offer a scholarship. He wanted to sit out the fall and spring semesters at a new I-A school and be eligible to play in 1997, but said his timing on a possible transfer couldn't have been worse.

"I messed up by getting my release late," Sabelhaus said. "If I had gotten my release in May, I could have visited other schools over the summer, found a Division I-A program that needed a quarterback, and maybe it would have all worked out. If I go to a junior college, then the I-A schools that don't have a quarterback can contact me."

NCAA rules require that transfers sit out two semesters, and that they be enrolled at their new school by the 12th day of classes. Many prospective programs were well into the semester and their season when they learned Sabelhaus was available.

Others feared that a scholarship for Sabelhaus would endanger the recruiting work they had invested in the current crop of seniors.

Sabelhaus had received no I-A scholarship offers until Monday, when Wisconsin offered him one, contingent upon his being enrolled by today. He decided not to visit Wisconsin, and is instead looking for a junior college where he can enroll, and possibly play this fall.

If Sabelhaus can earn an associate degree at a two-year school by next summer, he would be eligible to play for a I-A program in 1997. He earned 26 credits at Florida, and presumably would have to earn at least another 34 to get an associate degree.

Sabelhaus visited Boston College and UCLA in the last month, but neither school offered a scholarship. Northwestern was interested, but had questions over how many of Sabelhaus' credits it could accept. He has had contact with numerous other programs, including Georgia and Virginia.

Sabelhaus said he is disappointed in the response from Maryland. According to Sabelhaus, a Maryland coach told McDonogh coach Dom Damico that the Terps would not talk to him until coach Mark Duffner first spoke with Florida's Spurrier. Maryland has yet to say if it is even interested.

"I'm real confused about the whole Maryland thing," Sabelhaus said. "I'm surprised that they haven't tried to come after me. My home state did not want me, and that hurts."

Sabelhaus's I-A eligibility runs through 1999, and Maryland has two quarterbacks, Ken Mastrole and Trey Evans, in the same class. Malik Campbell, the only quarterback signed by the Terps this year, was not approved by the Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse, and is back at a high school in Buffalo, N.Y. He remains committed to the Terps.

Maryland has offered scholarships to the area's top two prospects, Arundel's Erik Lipton and Mount St. Joe's Lucas Phillips, and a scholarship to Sabelhaus probably would end any hope the Terps have of getting either.

"I'm not discouraged, but kind of humbled," Sabelhaus said. "I came out of high school as one of the top three quarterbacks in the nation. I know there's a cloud over my head, but I know I can be a major-college quarterback."

Pub Date: 9/18/96

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