Baltimore's Aaron Thompson stood in the middle of Ravens stadium yesterday and tried to soak up the rather imposing atmosphere of the highly celebrated professional football facility.
"I think I'll be lucky not to faint when I walk out on this field before the game," said the redshirt Maryland freshman linebacker.
Thompson will experience a high Oct. 31 when he starts against Georgia Tech in the first NCAA Division I-A game at the stadium.
"The adrenalin will be going through the roof," he said as he surveyed the scene in the middle of his hometown.
Just four miles to the west of where Thompson stood was Mount St. Joseph High, where he had a storied football career as a running back.
Fifteen minutes northeast on the Jones Falls Expressway was Thompson's home.
It all brought back memories of those nights as a youngster when he used to lay in bed and dream about a possible NFL career after his collegiate days were over.
But that was just a dream.
This is reality.
Less than two years out of high school, Thompson will be playing in a brand-new NFL stadium in his hometown with 25 family members and friends in the stands.
Thompson said it doesn't get much better than this.
However, there is one thing that could make the entire day perfect for the 20-year-old youngster.
"If my grandfather, Charles Green, could make it to the game, it would be fantastic," said Thompson, who has been one of Maryland's leading tacklers this season. "He is 65 and just had a stroke and he's in University Hospital. If he can't make it to the game, I hope he can see it on television."
Jordan, Jackson in town
Sophomore tailback LaMont Jordan and senior free safety Paul Jackson joined Thompson for yesterday's news conference.
Jordan is the second-leading rusher in the Atlantic Coast Conference with 491 yards in six games for the 2-5 Terps.
Jordan missed the first game of the season with a foot injury but has come on strong in recent weeks. He also threw a 68-yard touchdown pass on a halfback option play Saturday in a 20-10 loss to Wake Forest.
"I'd like to line up at quarterback sometime this year," said Jordan, who is 2-for-2 passing this season for 83 yards. "I know my pass was behind the receiver [Jermaine Arrington], but I was a quarterback in high school and love being back."
Jordan sees Maryland settling down in the opening minutes of the Georgia Tech game after being in awe of the stadium at first.
"I know we're going to be thinking in warm-ups, 'Why are we here?' But after the game starts we're going to have to get down to the business of playing," he said.
Jackson worked as an intern for the Ravens last January.
"I learned a lot about the franchise," Jackson said. "Now I want to learn a lot about playing in this stadium."
Coach Ron Vanderlinden said yesterday he is on the trail of "six or seven" Baltimore-area prep standouts and hopes to land all of them.
"Baltimore has enough good players to help put us over the top," Vanderlinden said. "You always want to start at home with your recruiting."
Pub Date: 10/20/98