Terps' Jordan out for spring

Academic problems mean back must hit books instead of line

March 07, 2000|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland's Heisman Trophy candidate, LaMont Jordan, is in trouble with the books again.

Jordan is being held out of spring practice to concentrate on his classwork, a decision by coach Ron Vanderlinden that comes six months after the nation's fifth-leading rusher last season battled the books down to the wire to remain eligible for the 1999 season.

"With LaMont out for the spring, that puts a big scare in everybody," said junior wide receiver Guilian Gary, who led the team in receptions last season with 24. "It means we have to be able to throw the ball and we have to be able to do other things because if LaMont doesn't come back, what happens? We have to hear all the time, `What if?'

"LaMont has dug himself a hole [academically] it's a big hole we have to fill if he doesn't make it back."

Vanderlinden said he is concerned about Jordan's academic problems, but has confidence the 5-foot-11, 216-pound senior will be eligible for a run at the Heisman next fall.

"LaMont has two goals," Vanderlinden said. "His team goal is to help get Maryland in a bowl game next fall, and on a personal note, he wants to get his academics under control this spring, which will allow him to fully concentrate on football in the summer and return in the fall in the best shape of his life and try to bring the Heisman award to College Park."

And Vanderlinden doesn't believe sitting out spring practice will hurt Jordan's effectiveness in September.

"I think what he does on the field next fall will be the most important thing," the coach said. "LaMont has proven he's one of the best running backs in all of college football. He's certainly one player that could afford to miss spring practice and still compete at the very highest level next fall."

Vanderlinden said Jordan is one of five Terps who will miss spring practice in an attempt to shore up academic difficulties.

The others are all juniors: offensive guards Chris Snader and Mike George, linebacker Reggie Lewis and tight end Eric James.

"Those guys are in our high-risk category and we will be meeting with them every morning at 7: 30 to check on their [academic] progress," said Vanderlinden. "As long as I'm the head coach, we'll be meeting with our high-risk students every day in the future. It will be a hands-on job."

When the Maryland players first heard the news that Jordan, who rushed for a school-record 1,632 yards last season, would miss spring practice, Gary said, "We were pretty upset That's when we work hardest, when we do all the extra winter workouts, like running and lifting.

"He has class and study hall and stuff like that he has to take care of, which I understand, but I mean we have a lot of football to be played and he's our poster boy and he's not taking part in any of it."

With Jordan out and No. 1 quarterback Calvin McCall arriving late for spring drills because of his position on the Maryland basketball team, the 15 days of spring workouts will lose a lot of luster. The practices will begin tomorrow and will conclude with the annual Red-White game at Byrd Stadium April 14.

NOTES: Former Arundel High standout quarterback Erik Lipton has never played a down in his three years with the Maryland football team and now his career is over because of rheumatoid arthritis, Vanderlinden said. "It's a shame," said the coach. "He's such a nice person. He'll remain with the team in a coaching position and, hopefully, they can find some medicine to help him out." Lipton would have been a redshirt junior on this year's team. Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Todd Bradley also has seen his Maryland football career end because of hemophilia, the coach said.

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