Jordan won't be running out on Terps in 2000

Junior back quells rumors about leaving early for NFL

Maryland notebook

October 20, 1999|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Forget the rumors.

LaMont Jordan said this week he is not leaving Maryland after his junior year and entering his name in the NFL draft next spring.

"I've heard so many rumors going around that I'm supposed to be coming out after this year," said the 5-foot-11, 216-pound junior running back. "But that's not the case. I'll be back next year. I'm still not ready yet. I'm definitely not coming out early. There's no question about it."

Jordan said he believes most of the rumors have been started by people who don't want to hear that he is staying at Maryland.

"If you don't say what they think you should do, they start a rumor," said the running back, who is making a serious run for All-America honors. "I guess I hear a lot of the rumors because I'm from this area [Forestville and Suitland High]."

Jordan, 20, has been one of the hottest all-around players in the nation over the past five weeks, rushing for 667 yards and 11 touchdowns, catching 14 passes for 192 yards and throwing a 60-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Arrington in a 49-31 loss to then-No. 9 Georgia Tech.

He has charged into second place in the Atlantic Coast Conference in rushing (118.0 yards a game), which places him 12th in NCAA Division I-A.

Jordan leads the ACC in scoring average per game (12.0), which has him tied for fourth in the nation. In all-purpose yards, Jordan is second in the ACC and 15th nationally with 151.0 a game.

"LaMont played as well as he could against Clemson [four touchdowns and 177 yards rushing]," said Maryland coach Ron Vanderlinden. "I'm not sure how good LaMont can be. We're seeing an upside of him now. His work habits are excellent. He is showing an excitement for the game and winning and has a lot of enthusiasm. Those are all great things for our program."

Many of Jordan's teammates have said recently they are "getting a kick" out of watching him run, catch and throw the ball.

Said unheralded Maryland junior wide receiver Jason Hatala: "LaMont is making it fun for me to block for him. Sure I'd like to catch the ball more, but right now my main job is to block." Jordan has a team-leading 15 catches, compared to eight for Hatala.

Said Jordan: "I probably have the best blocking wide receivers in the league. Jason [Hatala], `Cheese' [Omar Cheeseboro], and Jermaine Arrington all give the DBs [defensive backs] a lot of fits with some nice chop blocks."

Hatala is `gym rat'

Hatala walked into Maryland's weekly football press conference and many people didn't even realize he was a member of the team.

Hatala (5-10, 173) not only looks smaller but he has a youthful face and appears to be more suited for playing soccer or tennis.

"Jason doesn't look like he plays," Vanderlinden said. "His high school coaches told me: don't look at him, just watch him play. For any of you who are familiar with the term, he is a `gym rat.' He is the first to arrive at practice and the last to leave. I was a gym rat myself, and I'd put my paycheck on the line with Jason Hatala any time. He has really emerged as an outstanding player."

Messina praised

Senior starting left tackle Brad Messina was praised by Vanderlinden yesterday for "playing his best game" this season in Saturday's 42-30 loss to Clemson.

"Brad was exceptional," Vanderlinden said. "Jamie Wu, Todd Wike, Melvin Fowler and John Waerig also played hard and our entire offensive line has really come a long way. They are opening some huge holes."

Graves out

Sophomore inside linebacker Monte Graves (St. Mary's High of Annapolis) injured his right thumb against Clemson and will undergo surgery this week.

Graves will miss the North Carolina game, which has been changed from a 1 o'clock to 3: 30 p.m. start on Saturday at Byrd Stadium because it will be televised regionally by ABC.

Graves is expected to return for the Oct. 30 game against Duke.

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