Young Terps QB comes armed to play hardball

Harrison puts on show on first day of drills

August 10, 1999|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Forget the hype.

Maryland freshman quarterback Latrez Harrison looks even better than the reputation that preceded him here from Atlanta.

He has an arm like a cannon, walks and talks with all the confidence of a No. 1 quarterback and could be destined to lead the Terrapins out of the football wilderness.

"I think I have a real good shot at starting," said Harrison who is listed at 6 feet 3, 214 pounds, but looks much bigger. "Randall [Jones] and Calvin [McCall] are two great quarterbacks and it's going to be a challenge to win the job. Whoever is the best man will win."

McCall, a 6-3, 189-pound redshirt freshman, is known for his ability to both pass and run, and Jones, a 6-2, 212-pound sophomore, is an explosive option runner.

That gives the Terps three different styles at quarterback entering coach Ron Vanderlinden's third season.

Jones is No. 1 on the depth chart and McCall No. 2 as the upperclassmen prepare to report today. Vanderlinden said after spring practice last April: "I'd be shocked if either Randall or Calvin weren't our starting quarterback next season."

But Harrison seems to have too much talent to be denied the starting spot at some point this season. He stepped on the field for the first time yesterday and immediately made a strong impression.

After a series of perfect, quick-out passes and some 50-yard bombs to Scooter Monroe and Jafar Williams during light first-day drills for freshmen, his talent was obvious.

Monroe, a 6-1, 175-pound wide receiver out of Bel Air's John Carroll, certainly was impressed.

"I've never seen anybody throw that hard," said Monroe.

"He zips that ball in there. He burned me on that first pass, but I caught it. I have a little stinger on my arm."

Harrison looked as if he belonged on the same practice field with Florida State and Auburn, the two schools he spurned for Maryland.

He made an oral commitment to Auburn, but became upset with the Tigers when they signed a second quarterback.

"Auburn was shooting blanks with me," said Harrison. "They weren't straight up. Coach Vandy is the nicest guy in the world. He was straight up. He told me exactly what to expect when I got here and it's been that way. I'm really going to like it up here."

And why not Florida State?

"Florida State wins, but the coaches aren't like they should be," he said. "They help you on the field, but not off the field. When I went there, only half of them knew my name. I came here on a recruiting trip and all the coaches knew my name."

As expected, Vanderlinden was very careful not to heap too much praise on Harrison after yesterday's impressive workout.

"One thing I've learned is don't be too quick to form an opinion on freshmen," Vanderlinden said. "They're all brand new and trying real hard.

"Latrez is very athletic, has a strong arm and I'm very encouraged. I just told him to relax. I don't want him hurting his arm. We only have one quarterback for the first two days of drills."

Vanderlinden said he will put Harrison in a position to learn the offense and then take it "day-to-day."

NOTES: Starting junior fullback Matt Kalapinski underwent surgery in late June to repair cartilage, but is expected to join the team for the first full practice Thursday. Kalapinski was the Terps' second leading rusher last season with 370 yards.

Tailback Rich Parsons was the only freshman recruit not to report for the first day of practice yesterday. Parsons, who is from Newark, Del., did not meet NCAA eligibility requirements and will have to attend a prep school. There is a chance he could be eligible to enter Maryland for the spring semester and be able to play next season.

Pub Date: 8/10/99

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