Terps, Vanderlinden look to get weight off their backs

Leaner Maryland starts practice with few certains

April 02, 1999|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- All-Atlantic Coast Conference second-team running back LaMont Jordan has given up Big Macs to improve his quickness.

Starting right guard Jamie Wu has slimmed down from 320 to 288 pounds, thanks to an off-season regimen of 6: 30 a.m. workouts.

All the offensive linemen have been ordered to drop their weight below 300 pounds.

And coach Ron Vanderlinden has backed off from the bold statements of instant ACC success he made when he first arrived here more than two years ago.

Lean, mean and serene.

That is the 1999 theme for the Maryland football team that opens four weeks of spring practice today, concluding with the annual spring game at Byrd Stadium at 7 p.m. on April 30.

"If I could go back two years, I'd temper some of the things I said," Vanderlinden said yesterday of his comments about challenging national power Florida State for the top spot in the ACC. "Of course, I can't go back. That's why I'm playing it close to the vest now. I don't want to go overboard."

There are many questions to be answered in spring practice at several positions, with the running game really being the only part of the team that is settled.

"I know I won't be able to walk in here [news conference in four weeks at the end of spring practice] and say, `Boom, this is it, where we want to be, we're going to do this and that next year,' " said Vanderlinden, who has gone 2-9 and 3-8 in his first two seasons.

Jordan, a 5-foot-11, 216-pound junior tailback, is the marquee player on the team now, before the freshmen arrive for fall practice. He rushed for 906 yards and six touchdowns on 169 carries last season to finish second in the ACC.

There is depth behind Jordan at tailback in seniors Harold West- ley and Gavin DeFreitas. The fullback spot again will be in the hands of junior Matt Kalapinski.

DeFreitas, who sat out last season, transferred from Western Maryland after helping the Green Terror to the NCAA Division III playoffs in 1997.

Jordan might have to share some of the spotlight next fall when highly touted freshman Latrez Harrison, a 6-3, 210-pound quarterback, arrives from Booker T. Washington High in Atlanta.

Harrison is the big-name national quarterback Vanderlinden has been seeking for two years. Harrison rejected Auburn for Maryland in early February after the Tigers received an oral commitment from another quarterback.

Harrison threw for 2,400 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior in high school and could bolt into the No. 1 quarterback spot in the fall.

That would mean sophomore Randall Jones, the first true freshman ever to start at quarterback for Maryland, would drop to No. 2 on the depth chart.

"Randall's going in as No. 1," Vanderlinden said. "He's been under fire and has had so much game experience. If Randall gets beat out by Latrez, that's good because Randall's a pretty good player and that will say a lot about Latrez."

Pub Date: 4/02/99

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