Terps' Jordan takes his beef to backfield

Tailback wants ball but faces competition

August 12, 1999|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- In a perfect Maryland football world, running back LaMont Jordan and coach Ron Vanderlinden would be on the same page in their approach to the game.

But Jordan and Vanderlinden still don't see eye-to-eye on all phases of football, as they begin their third season together today with the first full-team workout.

Jordan, a junior, is still trying to persuade Vanderlinden to give him the ball at least 22 times every game and seldom wants to come off the field even though he is hurting physically.

The second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference pick last season (906 yards) longs to be the team's workhorse in the backfield. He hasn't achieved that status yet, averaging only 16.9 carries a game last season.

Vanderlinden has preached to Jordan for two years about the importance of conditioning, improved work habits in practice and keeping his weight down around 216.

Jordan admitted yesterday at media day that he reported to camp weighing 225 pounds and said, "I gained the weight over the summer probably because I didn't work out hard enough and ate too much. I spent a lot of time going to class."

The extra weight hasn't sat well with Vanderlinden and he said, "LaMont could be really good. LaMont's going to have a hard time winning that job [tailback] this fall because of those issues. We're at a point now where we have enough good players that you have to earn your spurs."

So just who is pushing Jordan for No. 1?

Junior Mookie Sikyala was impressive running the ball in the spring practice game and has moved past Harold Westley into second place behind Jordan on the preseason depth chart.

"Mookie is a good player," said Vanderlinden. "That spring game wasn't a flash. And Gavin DeFrei-tas [senior transfer from Western Maryland College] is a big guy with pretty good speed. The best thing for Gavin is that he has been here a whole year and has had some time to adjust."

With improved depth at tailback -- and every position on the team except the two inside linebacker spots where Eric Barton and Kendall Ogle played last year and were drafted by NFL teams -- the Terps should improve on last year's 3-8 record.

But most of the players and Vanderlinden don't want to make any bold predictions. They all have learned their lessons in the past two seasons.

Senior left tackle Brad Messina is typical of the new approach at Maryland.

"We're just going to let our play on the field speak for us this year," said Messina. "We're tired of people saying things about us on the offensive line. We don't even listen anymore. We've got everybody back on the offensive line except our left tackle and believe we can protect well for our three quarterbacks [Randall Jones, Calvin McCall and Latrez Harrison] and help get LaMont his 1,000 yards."

NOTES: Vanderlinden said yesterday that junior wide receiver Moises Cruz was still suspended indefinitely because of assault charges placed against him by Prince George's County police April 18 in connection with a fight outside a College Park bar and restaurant.

Cruz, 21, was charged with misdemeanor first- and second-degree assault in the fight in which a man's face was cut with a bottle. Police said witnesses reported seeing Cruz throw a bottle at the man. The case has not gone to trial yet.

Freshman offensive lineman Lamar Bryant, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound prospect from Clinton, Md., will be out of action five weeks after breaking a bone in his foot during physical testing trials Tuesday.

Maryland schedule


2-at Temple, 6 p.m.

11-vs. Western Carolina, 6 p.m.

18-vs. West Virginia, noon

30-at Georgia Tech, 8 p.m.


9-at Wake Forest, tba

16-vs. Clemson, 1 p.m.

23-vs. North Carolina, 1 p.m.

30-vs. Duke, 1 p.m.


6-at N.C. State, tba

13-at Florida State, tba

20-vs. Virginia, 1 p.m.

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