No shaking him

maryland-florida state

Terps freshman Meggett plays it cool beyond his years

November 22, 2008|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,jeff.barker@baltsun.com

COLLEGE PARK - If he doesn't wind up playing in the NFL like his father, Davin Meggett says he would consider applying to the CIA.

A career in the intelligence-gathering agency could work out well for Maryland's freshman running back, whose distinguishing characteristic is that he is utterly unflappable.

Meggett has had to play earlier and more often than coaches expected because of the lingering shoulder injury suffered by starting tailback Da'Rel Scott against California in Week 3. He has responded with 369 yards and a 5.4 yard-per-carry average and has shown few signs of freshman stage fright.

His biggest burden might be carrying the name Meggett.

His father, Dave, was a multipurpose running back for the New York Giants, New England Patriots and New York Jets in a 10-year NFL career. He had eight touchdowns as a punt and kickoff returner and was selected to two Pro Bowls.

The younger Meggett did not grow up with his father - he says his parents split about the time he was born. Still, he was left with a sizable football legacy to contend with.

So far, he's managing it just fine.

"It does carry an expectation," said the 5-foot-8, 210-pound freshman, who teammates say has a fullback's bulk and a tailback's speed. "People expect you to be a certain way, to carry a certain swagger."

It wasn't his father who motivated him to play football, Meggett said. He says his first sport was soccer but that he switched to football when he was 9 because his best friend played the sport.

Meggett said he got a mixed message from his father's career. His father might have been a celebrity, but he has had difficulties since retiring after the 1998 season.

The elder Meggett was in the news in 2004 for owing past child support. He was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in a Toronto hotel in the late 1990s, but the charges were dropped.

"I saw what it [the NFL] did to my father - emotionally, it just tears people apart," Davin Meggett said. "The lifestyle, it makes people different. It made him different - some good, some bad."

He declined to elaborate. He sees and speaks to his father periodically but seems to tire of being asked about him.

Dave Meggett could not be reached for comment through Tony Agnone, the Baltimore-area sports agent and lawyer who has represented him. Meggett was a college star at Towson before entering the NFL.

The younger Meggett said his father watches Maryland games on television and called him after the Terrapins beat North Carolina last Saturday, keeping them in control in the race for the Atlantic Coast Conference's Atlantic Division title. The Terps can clinch the division with a victory over Florida State tonight and a Boston College loss to Wake Forest today.

"He was asking about a play in which it looked like I ran the wrong play," the freshman said. It was supposed to be a pitch to one side, but quarterback Chris Turner looked to the other side and then just held on to the ball, according to Davin Meggett, who said the quarterback got confused. Meggett had 86 rushing yards in the game.

He grew up in Prince George's County with his mother, Victoria Davis, and his stepfather, John Davis. After starring at Surrattsville High, he said he faced doubts about whether he was big enough and good enough to play major-college football.

But Maryland coaches have been impressed with his explosiveness, blocking in pass protection and - perhaps most of all - poise. "He's a freshman, but he doesn't play like a freshman," coach Ralph Friedgen said.

His biggest play so far was a 31-yard catch-and-run that put the Terps in range for the winning field goal against North Carolina State on Oct. 25. "I should have scored," he said.

Now that he's playing for Maryland, he said he couldn't help but think about the NFL. "I was thinking if the opportunity to get drafted happens, I would take it," he said.

He knows that would invite comparisons to his father but says that's fine. "It doesn't really bother me much," he said.

terps tonight

Matchup: Florida State (7-3, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) at No. 22 Maryland (7-3, 4-2)

Time: 7:45

Site: Byrd Stadium, College Park

TV: ESPN

Radio: 105.7 FM, 1300 AM

Series: Florida State leads 16-2

Last meeting: Florida State won, 24-16, on Nov. 17, 2007, in Tallahassee, Fla.

Maryland offense vs. Florida State defense: Maryland's running game looked rejuvenated against North Carolina. The ground game will be particularly important because Florida State's defense thrives on third-and-long. The Seminoles are among the national leaders in total defense, pass defense and sacks and tied for first in tackles for loss. DE Everette Brown has nine sacks.

Maryland defense vs. Florida State offense: Maryland has surrendered some big yards this season but has adjusted well at halftime of its ACC games. The Terps held North Carolina, Clemson and Wake Forest scoreless in the second half. The Seminoles lead the ACC in total offense and average 192 rushing yards, led by Antone Smith (651 yards, 13 rushing touchdowns).

Prediction: Maryland 24, Florida State 23

JEFF BARKER

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.