Kicking mad, Terps open punting contest

Starter Starner's 8-yarder set up Georgia Tech TD

Maryland notebook

October 06, 1999|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- The 3-1 Maryland football team is looking for someone who can punt the ball at least 40 yards or more, and all interested persons should report to the Terps' practice field immediately.

"We are opening the punting position up to competition," coach Ron Vanderlinden said yesterday. "I'm not going to comment on it any further today or at anytime later this week. It doesn't do us any good to tell Wake Forest [3-1] who our punter will be."

So exactly where does that leave junior Sean Starner, the beleaguered starter, and walk-on redshirt freshman Brooks Barnard, the hopeful backup?

It would seem that Barnard, who holds all of Broadneck High's punting records, has the inside track. He received his first opportunity to punt this season for Maryland on Thursday night in the fourth quarter of a 49-31 loss to Georgia Tech, hitting a line-drive 35-yarder on his only kick of the night.

Starner is averaging 32.3 yards on 25 punts this season and he shanked an 8-yarder late in the first half against the Yellow Jackets that led to a touchdown and a 28-17 halftime lead for the home team in Atlanta.

Vanderlinden said there are also five walk-on punters who have been practicing with the team this season, including sophomore Roger Evans from Hereford High.

But the coach would not say if any of those walk-ons were close to challenging Starner and Barnard.

When Vanderlinden was asked if he would consider any of the strong-legged members of the school's 7-3 and 10th-ranked men's soccer team, he laughed but didn't comment.

Maryland soccer coach Sasho Cirovski said yesterday, "I haven't been approached by the football coach about any of my players. Until I hear something from him, nothing would happen."

Gary bounces back

Sophomore kick returner and wide receiver Guilian Gary is making Vanderlinden look good these days after a rocky freshman season in which the speedster from Horseheads, N.Y., made several ill-advised decisions on punt returns.

No matter how many bad things happened to Gary last season, Vanderlinden kept promising that the 6-foot, 177-pound deep threat would someday be a big-play man for the Terps.

Gary was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Specialist of the Week for an 84-yard kickoff return and three punt returns for 36 yards against Georgia Tech.

"Guilian did make some bonehead plays last year for us," said Vanderlinden. "But he's done everything we could ask of him this year."

Uzelac laughs at Corso

ESPN football analyst Lee Corso said on the air last Thursday night that he couldn't believe an old hard-line coach from the Big Ten like Maryland's Elliot Uzelac (centers/guards coach) was now sporting a goatee.

Uzelac laughed yesterday at Corso's remarks and said, "Maybe I am losing it a little wearing this."

But there can be no doubt about the coaching results this season for the gruff Uzelac. Maryland quarterbacks have been sacked just once this season in 97 throwing situations in four games.

Last season, the Maryland line allowed 30 sacks and the number in 1997 was 56.

Local connection

Former Howard High standout DaLawn Parrish, a senior, is the starting free safety for the Wake Forest football team and is second in tackles with 25.

Another Baltimore-area product, junior defensive tackle Da'Vaughn Mellerson, is No. 2 on the depth chart and has three tackles in four games. Mellerson played at Mount St. Joseph.

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