Receiver Williams shares farewell glory with adviser

Seniors are carried off

W. Virginia loses receiver

Maryland notebook

December 31, 2003|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Tradition has always been important to Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen. Before he arrived in College Park three years ago, the Terps simply did not have enough of it, in his eyes, and he saw that as part of the problem.

And so, under his watch, tradition matters. Maryland sings the fight song in front of the student section after each win, players count down the points in the locker room to celebrate every victory, and at the end of the very last practice of the season, which took place yesterday, Maryland's seniors are carried off the field one at a time.

Each senior got to pick what players he wanted to carry him off the field, and so the linemen got together and hoisted Lamar Bryant and Eric Dumas onto their shoulders, the linebackers sent quarterback Scott McBrien on his way, and the running backs lugged Bruce Perry off the field.

But the most touching moment of the ceremony came when wide receiver Jafar Williams picked academic adviser Natasha Criss to carry him. She obliged, and the football team gave her a loud ovation when she single-handedly hauled Williams across the line.

"I thought it was pretty apropos that Natasha carried Jafar, because Natasha has probably worked very hard for Jafar to graduate," Friedgen said. "The last practice is sometimes a joyous thing and a memorable thing and we wanted to celebrate it."

Friedgen said the players were loose yesterday, that they practiced well, and that he thinks they'll be ready to play tomorrow.

"There was a little bit of clowning around today," Friedgen said. "We'll see how they play. ... I think they're ready to go."

W.Va. suspends wide-out

West Virginia said yesterday that wide receiver Travis Garvin had been suspended for the Gator Bowl for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

"He's been sent home," said Mountaineers coach Rich Rodriguez. "He didn't miss curfew. Other disciplinary factors."

Garvin, a senior, was third on the team with 16 catches for 307 yards, but he's been a big-play threat for West Virginia, catching a 93-yard touchdown in a 28-7 win over Virginia Tech.

West Virginia is already thin at receiver, with leading receiver Chris Henry missing practice yesterday with back spasms

"His back is still locked up," Rodriguez said. "It's one of those things where you need time to heal. We'd like to get him in there. But if not, we'll move on."

Surgery for Evans

Friedgen said yesterday that it's likely quarterback Orlando Evans, who was injured in Monday's practice, has a torn ligament in his left knee. He'll likely have surgery after the bowl game. All of Maryland's other players are expected to play.

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