Smith still thinking about Terps during whirlwind weekend

Former basketball player Cliff Tucker makes one catch in new role but is limited by ankle injury

April 30, 2011|By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK — — Wide receiver Torrey Smith, the Ravens' second-round draft pick, attended Saturday's Red-White football game, visiting with his former Maryland teammates.

Smith wore red a Maryland Terrapins T-shirt (not a Ravens shirt). He received one of the loudest ovations of the day when introduced to the Byrd Stadium crowd.

Smith had 67 catches and 12 touchdowns last season. But Ravens fans may not know that he played much of the year with a sore ankle that has now had time to heal. He had seemed to pull up and limp after scoring on a 68-yard pass in the Florida International game in September.

Smith minimized the injury to the media, but his cuts and burst weren't the same for weeks. His kickoff returns, in particular, seemed to suffer — partly a function of his teammates' blocking, but also his restricted mobility.

He said this spring — as he worked out for NFL scouts — that he was fully healed. At the NFL scouting combine, he ran a 40-yard sprint in 4.42 seconds and had a 41-inch vertical jump.

He's also bigger than some may believe. "I am like 208, 209, but I always weigh in at like 200 on purpose so teams think I'm smaller than I am," Smith said in an interview last season. "We weigh in at the beginning of spring, so I just won't eat nothing."

Tucker exits early

Cliff Tucker's public debut as a college football player ended quickly and quietly. The former Maryland basketball player caught a five-yard pass Saturday from backup quarterback C.J. Brown in the second quarter.

He twisted his right ankle on the play, saying later that coaches would not allow him to return. His ankle was taped as he spoke to the media after the game. He still carried a backpack that said "Maryland Basketball" and bore the number – 24 – that he wore under Gary Williams. His football number is 88.

The 6-foot-5 Tucker, who played football in high school (in El Paso, Texas), said he couldn't resist the opportunity to play another sport.

"I've always had a love for the game of football," he said. "A 6-5 receiver? That's a definite advantage. Why not try it out? I was pretty good in high school."

Tucker is on track to graduate and would need to enroll in graduate school or apply for a double major if he plays in the fall. He said he believes he could receive a scholarship if he sticks with the team.

Tucker said Maryland coach Randy Edsall is supportive of the experiment.

"He knows I haven't played in four years," he said. "He knew I'd be a little rusty so he gave me a lot of leeway."

King cleared, for now

Among Maryland's promising young receivers is first-year player Nigel King, from Raleigh, N.C.

King, who has size (6-foot-3) and speed, caught three passes Saturday for 19 yards.

King, who enrolled in January, was recently cleared to practice by an NCAA clearinghouse that studies eligibility issues.

But Edsall said Saturday that a decision is still pending on King's availability for the season. The team has not discussed the specifics of King's case.

"That's not in our control," Edsall said Saturday of King's situation.

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