Jones is toast of Terps and No. 1 quarterback Once a 4th-string safety, freshman won job vs. FSU

Maryland notebook

October 06, 1998|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- One of the most improbable stories in Maryland football history continued to unfold yesterday when freshman Randall Jones was named the team's No. 1 quarterback.

In seven weeks, Jones has climbed from fourth-string strong safety to starting quarterback, soaring past six other passers.

The acrobatic, 6-foot-2, 207-pound graduate of Thomas Johnson High in Frederick becomes the first true freshman to start at quarterback for the Terps.

"I've never seen a player do anything like this before in my 21 years of coaching," said Maryland coach Ron Vanderlinden. "There was something special about Randall the first time I saw him work out at quarterback. I said, 'We have to see more of him.' "

Jones became an instant favorite of the Maryland fans the first time he stepped onto the Byrd Stadium turf for a legitimate shot against Temple two weeks ago.

"Randall is going to take the reins," said Vanderlinden, who no longer plans to alternate Jones with junior Ken Mastrole. "Randall gives us the best opportunity to move the ball consistently on offense. The timing is right now for him to start. It's obvious to me and our coaches that Randall gives us the best opportunity to win at this time. He's ready and our team is ready for it. Randall has won the job on the field."

Jones reached out and grabbed the No. 1 spot Saturday against national power Florida State with an outstanding all-around performance that gave Maryland a realistic chance to beat the Seminoles.

Jones not only ran the option with his usual flair in a 24-10 loss, but he also completed enough passes (six of 14 for 46 yards) and came close on several other long throws that he made Vanderlinden's quarterback decision fairly easy this week.

Vanderlinden said he was impressed with most of Jones' decisions, especially on his passes.

"When we looked at the streak routes he threw out of bounds," Vanderlinden said, "there was one we felt he made a bad pass on. But the other two he had pressure right away and he did the smart thing -- he threw it out of bounds rather than throwing it up for grabs. We kept the game close, and that gave us a chance to win."

Polley makes big play

Florida State's talented sophomore linebacker Tommy Polley, a former basketball and football standout at Dunbar High, made four tackles Saturday, and one of them came on an impressive play late in the third quarter that might have prevented a 63-yard touchdown run by LaMont Jordan.

Maryland's Jordan took off around right end on a first-and-31 play from the 37-yard line and broke into the open near midfield.

But Polley, 6-5, 233, came racing across the field and tackled Jordan after a 10-yard gain.

"If I could have one play back in that game," said Maryland tight end John Waerig, "it would be the one where No. 29 [Polley] made that tackle on LaMont while he was coming down the sideline. I could have cut the linebacker [Polley], but I didn't cut him and he ended up making the tackle, and it probably would have been a touchdown if I had cut him."

Wake game set for 1 p.m.

Maryland's homecoming game against Wake Forest on Oct. 17 will begin at 1 p.m. There will be no TV coverage.

Pub Date: 10/06/98

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