FSU picked to reclaim Terps' throne

UM third after N.C. State in preseason voting

Friedgen down 36 pounds

ACC notebook

College Football

July 23, 2002|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

PINEHURST, N.C. - Maryland, last year's surprise football champion in the Atlantic Coast Conference, was picked to finish third this season in a vote conducted yesterday among media who cover the league.

Florida State, predicted to be a factor in the national championship race, garnered 82 of 86 first-place votes for 770 points. The remainder went to second-place North Carolina State, which garnered 642 points to the Terrapins' 571.

Like many of the coaches who spoke at yesterday's interview sessions, Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said he tries to ignore the preseason polls, particularly after his team defied expectations by finishing with a 10-2 record in 2001.

"I don't worry about those," said the coach, whose team is anticipating the return of its top two players, linebacker E.J. Henderson and tailback Bruce Perry, who missed spring practice with injuries. "Last year, you guys had us seventh or eighth, so I don't get involved in that."

The Seminoles are trying to rebound from an 8-4 campaign, unacceptable for a group that had won 10 or more games in each of the 14 preceding years. The team was hampered by injuries and the inexperience of first-year quarterback Chris Rix, who didn't hit stride until the second half of the season.

N.C. State is seen as the main challenger because of its late-season win over Florida State in Tallahassee. But overall, Florida State has 17 starters returning, an ingredient coach Bobby Bowden was missing last year.

"The talent level is as good as it was 10 years ago," Bowden said, "but we were totally inexperienced last year and we had to go through like that because there's nothing like experience."

Smaller `Fridge'

By virtue of last year's league crown, Friedgen gained a media following he didn't have last year. At the same time, he's lost a chunk of weight, 36 pounds to his count.

Relatively speaking, the man nicknamed "the Fridge" seemed svelte, quoting his current weight at 318 pounds. The shedding comes as a result of a dieting campaign aimed at raising $1,000 for each pound he loses.

Since his effort became public this spring, Friedgen said his electronic mail has become a target for physicians, trainers and nutritionists offering advice.

When he revealed that he often skips breakfast, he groaned that "now I'll have 20,000 doctors saying you have to eat breakfast. But they're not the ones trying to lose weight for money."

Odds and ends

Friedgen said he would likely offer Sam Maldonado, a tailback from Ohio State who has been taking summer school classes in College Park, a scholarship to play at Maryland. Maldonado, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound transfer, had 39 carries for 168 yards last year at Ohio State. ... Domonique Richmond, a member of the Terrapins' recruiting class, will likely enroll in College Park and join the team in January. The all-purpose player from Hagerstown had been arrested on marijuana-related charges in the early spring, and his delayed enrollment serves as a penalty from the school. "If he does what he's supposed to do, we'll bring him in," Friedgen said. ... Maryland's Sept. 14 game against Florida State at Byrd Stadium is reported to be a near sellout.

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