UM's Allen likely to miss '05 season

Terps back set to redshirt due to severe knee injury

March 17, 2005|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Maryland running back Josh Allen, who suffered a serious knee injury in the final game of the 2004 season, said yesterday that it's unlikely he'll be healthy enough to play in 2005 and that the team is planning to redshirt him.

Allen, who has been a starter for much of his three-year career at Maryland, would have one year of eligibility remaining.

"It's something that I'm just having to deal with," Allen said. "I'm just trying to make sure I get back right. When [the injury] happened, I was mad, but now I'm cool."

In 33 career games, the Eleanor Roosevelt High graduate has rushed for 1,860 yards and 21 touchdowns and has often played his best in big games. In Maryland's 20-17 upset of Florida State last season, Allen caught a short screen pass and turned it into a 72-yard touchdown, weaving his way through several Seminoles defenders on his way to the end zone.

In 2003, Allen ran for 257 yards and two touchdowns in a nationally televised win over Virginia late in the season, a victory that helped Maryland earn a Gator Bowl invitation. It was the third-most rushing yards ever in a game by a Maryland running back.

"I guess it's nice to know that there is no pressure for me to come back right away, or before I'm healthy," Allen said. "Ideally, I'd just play this last year, but I guess it's good that I won't have to rush back when it's not 100 percent. It's good to have my redshirt as an option."

Allen injury occurred in Maryland's 13-7 victory over Wake Forest on an unusual play late in the first half when quarterback Sam Hollenbach lobbed a pass toward the end zone in Allen's direction.

"The ball got kind of batted around and I was still trying to catch it when I was coming down," Allen said. "My leg was planted and the [defender] hit me right in the knee with his helmet. I didn't want to look, but I knew right away it was bad. [The trainer] came out and said, `What happened?' and I said, `My leg is broke.' "

Allen didn't break his leg, but he did dislocate his knee joint, tearing his anterior cruciate ligament and his medial collateral ligament. He had to be carted off the field and underwent surgery several days later. He hasn't regained his full range of motion and said he has been walking for only about a month.

"It's going to take a lot of hard work," Allen said. "I've definitely been aggressive rehabbing it. It's going to be tough sitting and watching."

There will be several candidates for Allen's job, though none with much experience. Senior Mario Merrills likely will compete with junior J.P. Humber and sophomores Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball for Allen's starting spot.

NOTES: Coach Ralph Friedgen said yesterday that quarterback Ryan Mitch has quit the team, even though he is still enrolled in school. Mitch, a three-year starter at DeMatha High School, contemplated quitting after two-a-day practices last year but changed his mind, despite falling behind Joel Statham, Jordan Steffy and Hollenbach on the depth chart. Mitch is DeMatha's all-time winningest quarterback (29-4). As a senior in 2002, he completed 60 percent of his passes, throwing for 1,377 yards and 11 touchdowns. ... Hollenbach, who said he was thinking about transferring last season, is still with the team. ... Middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, who had surgery on his right wrist during the offseason, has a cast on his arm and won't participate in spring practices.

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