Terps' Perry, Henderson on mend

Tailback hopes to start again in '02

linebacker could miss Aug. 31 opener

College Football

July 18, 2002|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Maryland's top offensive and defensive players both sat out April's spring practices, which ended with a severe knee injury to the top candidate at quarterback.

Sounds like a recipe for anxiety, although tailback Bruce Perry and linebacker E.J. Henderson both appear to be on the mend, and quarterback Chris Kelley has been participating in the team's recent seven-on-seven drills.

Perry expects to defend his starting spot after rushing for 1,242 yards and 10 touchdowns last year as a sophomore. He suffered from pain in his groin and abdomen after the new year and had it treated in the spring, which is why he missed April practices.

The progress of reserve tailbacks Jason Crawford, Chris Downs and Mario Merrills notwithstanding, Perry said he does not feel like he's starting from scratch after the layoff.

"I know what I can do, and everyone knows what I can do," he said. "I'm just trying to get into the swing of things."

Less certain is Henderson, the Aberdeen native honored in 2001 as the top Atlantic Coast Conference player and a consensus first-team All-American after recording 150 tackles. He's coming off back surgery during the off-season.

He may miss Maryland's season opener in the Kickoff Classic against Notre Dame on Aug. 31. He reports himself to be at 75 percent, and he has participated in the team's summer workouts.

"I've still got to get my speed back, to get my agility back and to get my strength back," he said last week. "I've got another month before game time. I expect to be back."

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said he hopes his star linebacker will be able to practice with the team when it begins early next month.

"The doctors will have to rule on that, but that's what we're hoping for," he said yesterday. "It's very positive that he doesn't have any pain. Now it's a matter of getting his strength back and his cardiovascular conditioning back. We'll try to bring him back slow and have him back by game time."

Kelley has declined to talk about the progress of his right knee, which he had reconstructive surgery on after damaging it during the spring scrimmage on April 27. In previous years, he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, and it's possible he will sit out for the second time in three seasons. His status depends in part on the progress of transfers Scott McBrien and Orlando Evans.

Nonetheless, Kelley could be seen doing drop-backs earlier last week along with McBrien and Evans and could be available at some point during the season.

"I didn't expect him to be back," Evans said, "but I'm happy for him, because it meant he was able to compete and get back in it."

When spring practice ended, Evans, a City College of San Francisco transfer, was trailing McBrien, a West Virginia transfer, in the competition to be Kelley's backup. The question of who starts at quarterback is unlikely to be settled before the middle of August.

McBrien, a DeMatha graduate, has experience in quarterback competition, having battled for a starting position a year ago in Morgantown before transferring to College Park.

"I've been through this before," he said. "I've No. 2, I've been No. 1, and I've been back and fourth. It's familiar, and I've just got to continue to do what I'm doing and things will fall into place, hopefully."

NOTES: Maryland's coaches, who have been in trailers while their offices are being re-done, are expected to move back into Gossett Team House next week. The academic center planned as part of Gossett's renovation is scheduled to be completed by December. ... Linebacker Mike Whaley, who had been attempting to get reinstated at Maryland after being academically dismissed in February, will not return. ... Raheem Lewis, a freshman offensive lineman last season, will not return to the team in 2002 after being suspended indefinitely for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

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