Friedgen sets sights on picking UM QB

He must replace McBrien

Statham starts spring No. 1

College Football

April 01, 2004|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen showed off his team's new dining facilities yesterday. Later this month, he'll show off the Terps' new uniforms.

In between, Friedgen will devote most of his waking hours to picking a new quarterback.

All that's new isn't the only focus for Maryland's football team, which begins three weeks of spring practice today. But as Friedgen starts his fourth year with the program, it's what stands out.

The new dining facilities represent one of the final touches on a $3 million expansion of the Gossett Team House that began two years ago. The new uniforms are part of a $2.6 million deal with Under Armour that was signed in January, and they should be unveiled - with the help of former Terp Boomer Esiason - when Maryland holds its spring game April 24.

Picking a new quarterback, however, is the subject that will loom over all the others this spring, both in media coverage and in the conversations the coaching staff has behind closed doors. Friedgen and offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe need to find a replacement for two-year starter Scott McBrien.

"All the kids we have [at quarterback] have the physical skills to do the things we need them to do," Friedgen said. "But obviously, some are stronger in some areas than in others."

Sophomore Joel Statham will begin spring atop the depth chart, but Friedgen said he'll be followed closely by sophomore Sam Hollenbach and second-year freshman Ryan Mitch. True freshman Dan Gronkowski, who delayed his enrollment a semester and joined the team in January, will get a look.

"We might not know until a couple of games [into the season] how it's going to be," Friedgen said.

Still, Statham has the early advantage based on his arm strength and one half of meaningful game action he got against Georgia Tech last year when he came on after McBrien suffered a concussion.

"Joel can do it all. He has a very strong arm, a very quick release," Friedgen said. "He just needs to take care of the ball, not make mistakes and be a little more focused."

Hollenbach's biggest asset is his size (6 feet 5, 225 pounds), and Friedgen said he's improved his mobility in the offseason. A sprained ankle, however, may hold him back this week.

Mitch, a three-year starter at DeMatha, might be the most accurate passer of the group.

NOTES: Friedgen announced that Maryland has added former center Kevin Glover to its staff. Glover, who played 15 years in the NFL, will hold the official title of director of character education. Friedgen said he will act as a liaison between Maryland and the NFL, helping players make decisions about pursuing a professional career. ... Linebacker Reggie Holmes has withdrawn from Maryland. Friedgen said he's attending Anne Arundel Community College and could possibly return in the summer. ... Wide receiver Maurice Shanks has left the team. ... Sam Maldonado, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the fall, will go through drills but won't participate in any contact.

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