Terps' Kelley hurts knee again

Extent of injury unknown for possible starting QB

College Football

April 28, 2002|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Bad luck seems to have struck Chris Kelley again.

Maryland's sophomore quarterback, knocked out of action by knee injuries twice in the past, began yesterday's Red-White game No. 1 on the depth chart, but left at the end of the first quarter after slipping, then taking a hit by Domonique Foxworth.

Kelley, who was unavailable for comment, left the Byrd Stadium field struggling to put weight on his right leg, and spent the rest of the game - a 38-14 Red victory in front of an announced crowd of 10,000 - in the trainer's room after completing three of six passes for 60 yards and rushing for 19 yards on three carries.

He will have an MRI today or tomorrow to determine if the injury is a tear or merely a sprain.

Kelley was injured while running the ball - his dominant talent - and was hit after a six-yard gain along the left side of the field. Immediately, coach Ralph Friedgen and members of the team's medical and training staff rushed to his aid.

"We'll have to hope and pray that everything is OK, but we'll know more in the morning," said Friedgen. "He just can't get a break. He's worked so hard to get his knee right. ... It's just a shame."

If it turns out to be a serious injury, it would be the third knee injury since the summer of 2000 experienced by Kelley, who came to Maryland after a standout career at Montgomery County's Seneca Valley High School.

He first blew out the left knee during the Super 44 high school all-star game in July 2000, then injured the same knee a year later while bodyboarding in Ocean City.

Yet, Kelley recovered from his second injury well enough to rejoin the team for the 2001 season, where he served as a third-stringer behind Shaun Hill and Latrez Harrison.

With Hill's eligibility expired and Harrison moving to wide receiver, Kelley appeared to have his best chance to become the team's starting quarterback, though he would have to battle Scott McBrien and Orlando Evans in spring and fall camp.

That said, Kelley had shown he could take hits during this spring's session and entered yesterday scrimmage with the best chance, albeit marginally, of starting in the team's season opener against Notre Dame.

"I had to answer the question," Friedgen said when asked why the quarterbacks were fair game for defenders, out of the pocket. "I'd like to know if my quarterback can take a hit. Really, it wasn't the hit, it was the slip on the grass."

Halfway through the first quarter, Kelley had thrown an interception that Curome Cox returned 80 yards for a touchdown, but the quarterback led the Red team on two consecutive scoring drives. He began running on a third-down keeper when he was hit in the legs by Foxworth with 17 seconds left in the period.

"I didn't do anything too bad," Foxworth said. "It was just a regular play for me. ... It didn't look too bad right away."

McBrien, who looked like the better quarterback as recently as last week, completed 13 of 20 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown, while also throwing two interceptions.

McBrien, who played one season at West Virginia before transferring to Maryland last summer, would seem to be the starter if Kelley is unable to recover.

Friedgen said it is unlikely Harrison will return to the quarterback position to add depth, mainly because he recorded two catches for 80 yards yesterday, including a 69-yard touchdown on a throw from Evans at the end of the third quarter.

"I think I did pretty good," Harrison said. "There's room for improvement, and I'm going to work my butt off to get better over the summer."

The White defense - the first-string unit for much of the game - gave up 395 yards. Friedgen said that was because he'd requested that defensive coordinator Gary Blackney simplify the schemes in the unlikely case that Notre Dame coaches got a tape of yesterday's scrimmage.

The coach was happiest that the two units totaled only seven penalties, an apparent decrease from earlier scrimmages this spring.

"It wasn't what I wanted, but it was a hell of a lot better than it was last year," Friedgen said. "For a spring game, it was probably as well-played a spring game as you're going to get."

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