Bye week offers no rest for Friedgen and staff

Coaches working overtime on next recruiting class

Maryland notebook

College Football

November 07, 2003|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - In the life of a college football player, the bye week offers the rare chance to breathe. For a few days, things slow down. You can catch up on school work, catch up with friends and recharge your mental batteries for the battles that lie ahead.

But for a coach, the bye week can be even more hectic than usual. This week, Maryland's football staff is not only trying to prepare for next week's game against Virginia, it's also working overtime to nail down a recruiting class that could be the best yet for third-year coach Ralph Friedgen.

"It's going better than ever right now," Friedgen said of recruiting. "Right now, we're at 17 [oral] commitments that we're very happy with."

Friedgen gives most of the credit to wide receivers coach James Franklin, Maryland's recruiting coordinator. Franklin took over the position for Maryland last spring when former recruiting coordinator Rod Sharpless resigned after it was revealed he gave $335 to Victor Abiamiri, then a high school senior at Gilman. The money was returned and Maryland was placed on probation for a year by the NCAA as a result.

"James has really stepped up," Friedgen said. "I know he really wanted the position, and from the day that I gave it to him, he hasn't let a detail go unnoticed. He'll bring something up in staff meetings every day, telling a coach we've got to do this or that. He's always got four or five names up on the board, and he'll make sure a coach is writing a note to a kid. He's right on top of things. I'm very impressed with what he's doing."

Friedgen said Maryland expects to bring five or six more players to College Park for campus visits in January. Recruiting, as everyone is aware, is even more important this year with Miami and Virginia Tech set to join the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.

"Obviously the challenge is you're bringing three very good football programs into the conference, which is a strong football conference anyway," Friedgen said. "I've found that you may have some kids that were interested in other conferences that are now really attracted to the ACC. Everyone's going to have to raise their level if they want to be competitive."

Maldonado out for season

Running back Sam Maldonado will miss the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in one of his knees, Friedgen said. Maldonado had rushed for 305 yards this season, and was averaging 6 yards a carry before his injury against North Carolina. Earlier in the game, Maldonado produced a career-best 31-yard gain.

Senior Bruce Perry, who rushed for a season-high 96 yards against the Tar Heels before leaving with a sprained ankle, could be ready to play against Virginia. Friedgen said the team will evaluate Perry when Maryland has its first practice of the week today.

"He's better; I just want to see how much better he is," Friedgen said.

If Perry can't go, sophomore Josh Allen would start, with freshman J.P. Humber and sophomore Mario Merrills as backups.

Et cetera

After making two catches for 64 yards against North Carolina, sophomore Derrick Fenner now has 10 catches for 298 yards for the season, a 29.1-yard average.

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