Maryland sees better days ahead 10 redshirt freshmen, youngsters seeing action make Vanderlinden smile

November 21, 1998|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland football coach Ron Vanderlinden revealed this week he has 10 aces up his sleeve for next season.

They are 10 freshmen he has redshirted this season from his first full recruiting class, including two-dimensional quarterback Calvin McCall, who is expected to battle Randall Jones for the starting job next year.

McCall, like the other nine, was held out of action this season for more nurturing. McCall is equally adept at running and throwing the football.

There also is more help on the way next season before Vanderlinden and his coaching staff head out on the recruiting road full-time next week.

Eight high school seniors have orally committed to Maryland and are expected to make it official by signing national letters of intent Feb. 3.

Among the eight who have committed to the Terps is John Carroll wide receiver Hun "Scooter" Monroe, who scored 18 touchdowns and had nearly 2,000 all-purpose yards as a senior. The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder said he was clocked in a 4.3-second 40-yard dash last summer in the Terps' camp.

Monroe and three others who have committed are from Maryland, and the other four are from Pennsylvania, Florida, New Jersey and Delaware.

"I would have recruited all eight players if we were ACC champs," said Vanderlinden, whose team takes a 3-7 overall and 1-6 ACC record into today's season-ending game against N.C. State (6-3, 4-2) at Byrd Stadium at 1 p.m. "There's not a guy I wouldn't recruit if we had won the championship. I feel like all eight are really good players."

Three of eight set to sign with Maryland are offensive linemen, which has been the primary recruiting focus for Vanderlinden this year. He plans to sign six offensive linemen in an attempt to shore up the weakest part of the team.

While 18 highly regarded players have yet to step on the field in a game for Maryland, there were four true freshmen and four redshirt freshmen who started in 1998.

Jones, out of Thomas Johnson High in Frederick, has been the big story. He became the first true freshman to start at quarterback in school history and has provided fans with a lot of excitement with his running ability.

The other three true freshmen who have started are cornerback Tony Okanlawon, a product of DeMatha, strong safety Rod Littles and defensive tackle Charles Hill.

Overall, the forced youth movement featured a total of nine true freshmen who played, the four redshirt freshmen who started, 20 freshmen and sophomores who were members of the team's two-deep chart and the 28 freshmen and sophomores who played on a regular basis in every game.

The 28 freshmen and sophomores are more than half of the 48 to 52 players who get into a game.

Vanderlinden said during the season: "You don't think I want to play all these freshmen and sophomores. I had no other choice. I don't have anybody else."

The second-year coach said 20 players from the 1995 and 1996 recruiting classes were gone when he arrived.

"Seven of them were junior-college transfers, six didn't make it through admissions to get into school and the others were academic casualties after they got here," he said. "Also 15 players on the 1996 team were seniors. The cupboard was bare. The program had peaked at 6-5 in 1995."

The offensive line was so thin this season that redshirt freshman Melvin Fowler became accomplished enough to start at center in just 10 days after moving from backup nose guard. Fowler had not played center since junior high.

Fowler and Baltimore's Aaron Thompson (Mount St. Joseph) are two redshirt freshmen who have been solid starters since the season opener.

The other two redshirt freshmen who have started are left guard Mike George and tight end Eric James.

Freshmen who have been redshirted this season include E. J. Henderson and Durrand Roundtree and John Carroll's Monroe, all Baltimore-area players.

Meanwhile, Vanderlinden is running second to Georgia Tech in the race to get Eastern Tech's gifted 6-3 1/2 , 205-pound wide receiver Anthony Lawson. The Terps' coach has increased his recruiting presence in the Baltimore area, said Eastern Tech coach Nick Arminio.

"Coach Vanderlinden brought his entire staff to our school one night last February for a clinic for all of Baltimore and Harford counties," said Arminio. "It was well-received, and he said he would do it again. I think he is ethical and honest, and if I had a son at that level, I'd like to send him to Maryland."

Arminio said Maryland is running ahead of Penn State in the battle for Lawson but trailing Georgia Tech because Tech "makes compromises so its engineering students can attend class in the afternoon and practice at night."

Pub Date: 11/21/98

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