Mitch admits error, is back with Terps

QB says he didn't handle frustration the right way

College Football

August 25, 2004|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - A day after missing two practices and contemplating quitting the University of Maryland football team, second-year freshman quarterback Ryan Mitch rejoined his teammates at yesterday's practice, saying he had one of those "boiling point days" and he didn't handle it the right way.

"Me and my parents and coach had to take care of a personal problem, and I am just real happy to be back," said Mitch, who is in contention with two others for the backup quarterback job behind likely starter Joel Statham. "This is where I want to be."

Mitch missed a mandatory quarterbacks meeting Sunday night without explaining his absence to the coaching staff. He was also a no-show for the Terps' morning practice session on Monday, but met with Terps coach Ralph Friedgen and offensive coordinator/quarterback coach Charlie Taaffe in the afternoon.

Mitch, a three-year starter at DeMatha High School, informed Friedgen, who also spoke to Mitch's mother, Janet, for more than an hour Monday night, that he was contemplating quitting.

"I was a little bit surprised [Mitch was back]," said Friedgen, who told Mitch on Monday about how he nearly transferred from Maryland when he was a player, but decided to stick it out. "Hopefully, it works out. I am glad he's back."

Friedgen said he'd normally suspend a player a game for missing a practice, but he's not sure he'll go that route because "I don't know if the punishment fits the situation."

Though not speaking specifically about what caused his frustration, Mitch said that Sunday was the day "that put me over the edge."

According to sources familiar with the situation, Mitch was struggling to pick up blitzes during practice Sunday. When Taafe removed him from the drill, the quarterback threw his helmet. Again not speaking specifically about what caused his frustration, Mitch said he was so angry at how he reacted that he had trouble sleeping or eating.

Friedgen has spoken about Mitch's improvement several times during the preseason. The McLean, Va., native, who ran the scout team last year, is competing with freshman Jordan Steffy and sophomore Sam Hollenbach for the backup quarterback position.

NOTES: The magnetic resonance imaging results on the right knee of starting left tackle Stephon Heyer revealed that the junior, who started all 13 games last season, has a strained ligament. ... Friedgen said that freshman running back Keon Lattimore, who dislocated his shoulder Friday, has talked with his mother and brother, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, and decided to rehab the injury rather than have surgery. ... Single-game tickets are been sold out for home games against Georgia Tech (Oct. 9), North Carolina State (Oct. 16) and Florida State (Oct. 30). The only available tickets for those three games are as part of season-ticket packages.

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