Weatherly could get shot to build on Terps laurels

With Fenner questionable, more game time possible

September 07, 2005|By Heather A. Dinich | Heather A. Dinich,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - About the time Terps receiver Derrick Fenner was being wheeled into the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center on Saturday with his head and shoulders immobilized, his teammate, Drew Weatherly, was leaping to grab a pass for the game-winning touchdown against Navy.

"I knew it was my time to step up," said Weatherly, whose reception in the Terps' 23-20 win over the Midshipmen was his first collegiate catch for a score. "The catch was basically [because] we had to win this for Derrick."

On Maryland's previous drive, Fenner's head got caught between two Navy helmets on a two-point conversion attempt, causing a movement similar to whiplash - and a concussion. After the game, coach Ralph Friedgen said Weatherly's opportunity came at Fenner's expense.

It might come again.

The Terps' leading receiver is questionable for Saturday's home Atlantic Coast Conference opener against Clemson, possibly opening the door for Weatherly once more. So far, Fenner has been the only receiver to stretch the field, as his 28-yard reception in the fourth quarter was the Terps' longest play of the game. The catch set up Maryland's first lead of the game.

Weatherly, a speedy, athletic junior from Delaware, entered the season with nine receptions for 103 yards - all of which he compiled in eight games last year. Against Navy, he caught four passes for 36 yards.

Wide receivers coach Bryan Bossard, who is in his first season at Maryland, said he is aware of Weatherly's potential - Bossard recruited him when he was coaching at Delaware and Weatherly was at Sussex Central High in Georgetown, Del.

"I've seen him play. I've seen what he's capable of," Bossard said. "For whatever reason, he hasn't put it together on a consistent level in his first two years here, but we're expecting big things. He just never played with that swagger. Every great receiver has that swagger, where they can't be stopped."

Last year, Maryland scored only eight touchdowns passing, two of which Fenner accounted for. Friedgen said he needs Weatherly to be "big-time, a guy who makes big plays for us."

"Drew is a guy who has had huge practices," Friedgen said. "I think in our last scrimmage, he caught seven passes. And then he'll go out and have days where he doesn't catch any. Consistency is what I want to see Drew roll into and reach his full potential."

Weatherly made the most of his opportunity against Navy. With 61 seconds remaining in the game, quarterback Sam Hollenbach found Weatherly in the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown pass.

"It's one of those catches everybody dreams about when they were young," Weatherly said. "You see Jerry Rice do it [and think], `Oh that's me, that's me.' At the same time, it's one of those catches you must make. You practice that play time after time."

Friedgen said Fenner told the staff Monday he felt fine and wanted to practice Monday evening. Although he passed all of his tests, the medical staff hasn't cleared him to play.

He was walking around practice yesterday with his usual swagger, but watched from a seat on a cooler.

Friedgen said Fenner's possible absence won't change his plans for the offense, but he'd like to see if he can work freshman receivers Isaiah Williams and Terrell Skinner into the game.

NOTE: Senior linebacker D'Qwell Jackson was named the ACC's co-Defensive Lineman of the Week. He had a career-high 18 tackles against Navy. Jackson shared the honor with Florida State defensive end Kamerion Wimbley.

Next for Terps

Matchup: Clemson (1-0) at Maryland (1-0)

When: Saturday, noon

TV/Radio: ESPN/1300 AM

Line: Maryland by 1

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