Injuries mounting, Terps freshmen climbing ranks

College football

October 24, 2007|By Heather A. Dinich | Heather A. Dinich,Sun Reporter

COLLEGE PARK -- Before the season started, freshman Haroon Brown was somewhat of an afterthought in the Terps' 2007 recruiting class - a signing day addition to fill out the class, the last to be offered a scholarship.

This weekend, he'll be Maryland's starting fullback.

"I always prepare for the possibility," he said. " ... I was known to be a gamer in high school - I always played big in the games - so, hopefully, I keep that nickname up."

Brown, of Phoebus High in Hampton, Va., is one of several young Terps whose career has been fast-tracked because of an injury, as starter Cory Jackson had an operation yesterday on his broken hand and will miss Saturday's 3:30 p.m. home game against Clemson.

Each of the past three games has cost Maryland a starter on offense, but coach Ralph Friedgen said yesterday that he hopes to have quarterback Jordan Steffy (concussion) cleared to play by Saturday and that right guard Andrew Crummey (broken fibula) might return as early as Nov. 17 at Florida State.

Without Crummey, though, the Terps are down four linemen: Defensive end Mack Frost is out for the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a meniscus problem; defensive tackle Travis Ivey suffered a torn right medial collateral ligament and is out for the rest of the regular season; and starting left guard Jaimie Thomas broke his fibula Saturday against Virginia and is out about eight weeks.

"I'm trying to look at things positively and how this could affect us in the future," coach Ralph Friedgen said. "I think it could help us quite a bit. Guys are getting experience that they probably wouldn't get."

Brown is experiencing the same scenario Jackson went through last year, when he was thrust into a starting role after former Terp Tim Cesa's season ended because of a series of concussions.

"I think Haroon is developing quite well," Friedgen said. "How will he do in his first game? I don't know. Cory Jackson was in the same situation last year and came out and played gangbusters for us.

"Haroon is very much like Cory," Friedgen said. "He's a low-center-of-gravity-type guy, a good blocker. I'm hoping he'll do the same as Cory."

Sophomore Jared Harrell, who played for the first time since high school against Virginia, will fill in for Frost. After not playing at all in 2006 as a backup behind Trey Covington, Harrell was in on seven plays against the Cavaliers - all third downs and mainly on passing situations. He expects to have a similar role against Clemson because his strength is rushing the quarterback in long-yardage situations.

"This is the last way I ever wanted to earn playing time, from guys being banged up," he said. "This is why I need to step my game up so I can contribute to the team. I feel like the coaches are starting to feel that I can go out there and contribute."

The depth on the offensive line has gotten so thin that Friedgen has considered moving one of his tight ends to a tackle spot. With both starting guards - Crummey and Thomas - out on the offensive line, Friedgen said freshman Bruce Campbell is the most likely to see playing time, but he was also impressed with Columbia, S.C., native Stephen St. John at Monday's practice. Friedgen moved St. John from left tackle to right tackle.

"I was really hoping to redshirt him," Friedgen said. "I think he has a chance to be a really good player. He has excellent feet. He's a kid that really needs to mature a little bit more, but we may not have that luxury."

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