Kelley cleared to play for UM

Back from knee surgery, QB to practice Saturday

College Football

August 08, 2002|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Barely three months after reconstructive surgery on his right knee, Maryland sophomore quarterback Chris Kelley will participate when upperclassmen begin football practice on Saturday.

Kelley, who was injured in the team's spring game on April 27, was cleared Monday to play by team physician Dr. Leigh Ann Curl and by Dr. Steve Smith, whom the player had gone to for previous injuries.

It means that Kelley once again has a chance to compete with Scott McBrien and Orlando Evans for the starting job he once had the inside track on.

"If a guy gets injured, he has a chance to earn his spot back and we go from there," said Terps coach Ralph Friedgen, though he added that Kelley's next contact wouldn't occur until the regular season, which begins against Notre Dame on Aug. 31 in East Rutherford, N.J. "We'll have to take it slow and see where we're at."

Kelley's third comeback from a knee injury began when he had surgery performed by Curl on May 8. During the summer, he rehabilitated the knee under Smith at a facility in Silver Spring. He ran on underwater treadmills and worked on balance beams and trampolines as part of his regimen.

In addition to Kelley, linebacker E.J. Henderson has also been cleared to practice on Saturday. Henderson underwent back surgery in April.

Friedgen had expected Kelley to be out until at least October, but by early July, the former Seneca Valley High School (Germantown) star was participating in the team's summer workouts, going from simple drills like running backward to planting hard on the knee during passing drills.

Maryland's team trainer, Sandy Worth, said that despite the wish to keep Kelley from contact, the player is not under any restrictions. "He's been given a green light," she said, "but we need to be smart, and we will be smart."

In 2000, Kelley injured his left knee during the Super 44 high school all-star game, which forced him to redshirt in his first year at Maryland. In his second year in College Park, he left spring practices in position to be Shaun Hill's backup, but a beach accident wiped out his chances of playing a full part in the Terrapins' 10-2 season in 2001.

He played as a reserve in blowout victories over Duke and Troy State, but became the lead candidate to start at quarterback when Latrez Harrison moved to wide receiver, and seemed ahead of transfers McBrien and Evans during spring practices on account of his experience with the offense and his ability to run the option.

The high hopes appeared to end during the early part of the team's final spring scrimmage. Attempting to elude a defender, Kelley slipped, was helped off the field, and spent the rest of the game in the training room.

Those around the program feared that he would not be available for the 2002 season, yet Friedgen identified the player's recovery as a possible inspiration for the team.

"I watched him run, and it's astonishing," he said. "Just having Chris on the team has to give our players something to lean on."

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