July 10, 1997
1997 University of Maryland Football Season Preview
All-Atlantic Coast Conference honorable mention selections Eric Barton, Eric Ogbogu and Johnnie Hicks are among the 11 returning starters, and 41 returning lettermen, who will headline the 1997 edition of the Maryland football team.
The Terps finished with a 5-6 record and defeated conference opponents Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Duke in addition to Division I-A opponents Northern Illinois and Alabama-Birmingham. The program posted 11 or more wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1985 and 86 seasons and appeared in its first nationally televised contest at home since the 1992 season.
Head coach Ron Vanderlinden begins his inaugural season in College Park - and his inaugural job as a head coach at any level - with a staff that he considers to be second to none. Vanderlinden, who was the defensive architect of the last two Northwestern University teams which won back-to-back Big Ten Conference championships, has assembled what could be one of the top assistant coaching staffs in the nation. Combined, the staff has competed in 42 collegiate bowl games and three NFL Super Bowls. In the decade of the 1990's the staff has participated in 13 bowl games including two Orange and a pair of Rose Bowls. The staff's post-season bowl experience dates back to 1977.
Offensively, the new staff welcomes six returning starters - including its quarterback and its two leading ground gainers. Starting quarterback Brian Cummings has led the Terps to nine of their 11 wins in the last two years as the starter, while Brian Underwood, the team's leading rusher in 1996, gained 449 yards and Buddy Rodgers gained 447. Record-setting wide receiver Geroy Simon and center Erik Greenstein, who played virtually every snap in each of the last three seasons, are two of the five positions the new coaching staff must replace.
Defensively, the group has five returning starters - including four of last year's top five tacklers. Linebacker Eric Barton became only the second sophomore in school history to lead the team in tackles while linemen Johnny Hicks and Eric Ogbogu combined for more than 130 tackles. The trio will anchor the Terps' front-seven - probably the strongest aspect of the team. Rebuilding the secondary which saw all four starters graduate including first-round NFL pick Chad Scott, is the biggest concern facing the defense.
Quarterbacks No. Name Pos Hgt. Wgt. Yr. Hometown 5 Trey Evans QB 6-1 187 So.* Austin, Tex. 6 Erik Lipton QB 6-4 200 Fr. Crofton, Md. 9 Brian Cummings QB 5-11 195 Sr.* Eastchester, N.Y. 14 Ken Mastrole QB 6-4 232 So.* Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. 17 Gil Harris QB 6-2 200 Fr. Virginia Beach, Va. 17 Will Mack QB 5-11 200 So. Upper Marlboro, Md.
Quarterback: Brian Cummings earned the starting quarterback job following spring practice. He is in his fifth season with the program and has completed 56.0 percent of his career passes. He did not play baseball for the Terps last spring in order to concentrate solely on football practice.
"I was impressed with Brian," Vanderlinden said after Cummings directed the Red team to a 17-0 victory in the annual spring game. "I thought, in the first half in particular, he was the difference between the two teams. I think he showed a lot of poise and maturity and leadership."
Cummings, a redshirt senior, was named the pre-season starter but will be pushed by redshirt sophomore Ken Mastrole who played in eight games last season. Mastrole completed 36 of 89 passes and became the first freshman in school history to start at quarterback after taking the field as the starter versus West Virginia. He appeared in eight games and gained valuable experience against three teams which later in the season appeared in post-season bowl games. In week eight at Duke, he suffered a broken clavicle and was unable to play or practice for the remainder of the season. He returned and participated fully in all of the Terps' spring practice sessions.
Redshirt sophomore Trey Evans, who was the holder on field goals and point-after-touchdown attempts when Cummings was hurt, is the third-string quarterback heading into the fall. Will Mack, a sophomore, and freshmen recruits Gil Harris and Erik Lipton will earn repetitions as they work their way up the depth chart.
Running Backs No. Name Pos. Hgt. Wgt. Yr. Hometown 8 Harold Westley RB 5-7 166 So* Deerfield Beach, Fla. 15 LaMont Jordan RB 5-11 210 Fr. Forestville, Md. 23 Kenny Rogers FB 5-9 198 So. Monmouth Junction, N.J. 24 Damone Boone RB 5-9 200 So. Springfield, Va. 34 Buddy Rodgers RB 5-11 230 Sr. East Providence, R.I. 38 Aaron Thompson RB 6-2 215 Fr. Baltimore, Md. 39 Ryan Swift RB 6-1 219 Fr. Hinsdale, Ill. 40 Brian Underwood RB 6-2 197 Sr.* Bronx, N.Y. 41 Mike Castleberry RB 5-5 177 Fr.* Alexandria, Va. 45 Matt Kalapinski FB-HB 6-1 210 Fr. Marshfield, Mass. 47 Peter Timmins FB-HB 6-3 227 So.* Staten Island, N.Y. 49 Jason Hatala RB 5-11 170 Fr. Centreville, Va. 80 Eric James TE 6-2 255 Fr. Washington, D.C.
Running Back: Senior Buddy Rodgers is tied for sixth in school history with 12 rushing touchdowns and eighth in Maryland annals with a 4.3 yards per carry average. He could carry a healthy load of Maryland's rushing attack and has, since his arrival as a Parade All-American in 1994. He was one of eight players to earn playing time as a true freshman in 1994 and has carried the ball an average of nearly 100 times in each of his first three seasons. Look for that trend to continue in this his final, and hopefully, coming out season.
Redshirt senior Brian Underwood has good size for a running back, runs hard, and always keeps his feet moving. He led the Terps in rushing in 1996, when he gained a career-high 449 yards, and will compete with Rodgers at the tailback position. Underwood rushed for 74 yards versus Northern Illinois and 73 versus Georgia Tech - two of Maryland's victories in 1996.
Harold Westley played in all 11 games in 1996 and will earn his share of playing time behind Rodgers and Underwood. Westley was the third-leading rusher on the team last season, and was named the ACC Rookie of the Week for a 120-yard rushing performance versus Wake Forest. His effort against the Deacons set a school single-game record for rushing yards by a freshman.
Redshirt sophomore Peter Timmins, a converted linebacker, enters fall practice as the starter at the fullback position. He switched positions during the spring and will play on the offensive side of the ball for the first time in his career this fall. Sophomore Kenny Rogers, who played in eight games as a true freshman last season, should add to the depth at the position.
Sophomore Damone Boone is a very explosive runner who has big play potential. He figures to compete for playing time in 1997. The Terps signed six freshmen runners, Jason Hatala, LaMont Jordan, Matt Kalapinski, Ryan Swift, Aaron Thompson and Eric James. Depth at both the tailback and fullback positions could come from this group.
Offensive Lineman No. Name Pos Hgt. Wgt. Yr. Hometown 54 Mitch Watkins OL 6-2 283 Sr.* Salisbury, Md. 56 Jamison Wu OL 6-3 305 So.* St. Charles, Ill. 63 Ben Thomas OL 6-2 289 Fr.* Avoca, Pa. 66 John Feugill OT 6-8 300 Jr.* Methuen, Mass. 67 Ted Purnell OL 6-6 289 Sr. Crofton, Md. 68 Darryl Gilliam OT 6-5 321 Sr.* Washington, D.C. 70 Eric Timothy OL 6-3 295 So.* Hamden, Conn. 71 Pat Ward OL 6-4 310 Sr.* Herndon, Va. 72 Mike Sherman OT 6-6 313 Fr. Gaithersburg, Md. 73 Ryan Rezzelle OT 6-6 310 Jr.* Erie, Pa. 74 Brett Trammell OL 6-5 315 So. Constantia, N.Y. 76 Guy Bising OL 5-10 264 Jr. Gaithersburg, Md. 79 Mike George OL 6-6 270 Fr. East Hanover, N.J. Chris Snader OL 6-5 295 Fr. Bishopville, Md.
Offensive Line: Maryland returns four of its five interior line starters from last season. Of those four players, Darryl Gilliam and John Feugill will start for the third consecutive season, and Pat Ward for his second consecutive season.
Left tackle Darryl Gilliam may be the Terps' most talented offensive lineman. He began his career on the defensive line, and after a redshirt season in 1994, has been the starter at left offensive tackle. He is a stabilizing presence and leader on the field. Junior Ryan Rezzelle, who improved tremendously during the spring, is slated to back-up Gilliam.
Feugill started every game at right tackle last season and started two games in 1995 as a redshirt freshman. He will anchor the right side of the line and has worked hard to improve his technique. He is the tallest of the Terps' offensive lineman and uses his height to his advantage. He enjoyed a very productive spring until an injury forced him to miss the spring game. Brad Messina, a rapidly improving sophomore, is listed as Feugill's back-up entering the fall.
Ward was a starter until an injury forced him from the field after the fifth game of the 1996 season. He has started 16 games while playing in 26 in the last two years and has the experience to be a leader at the position. Ward, a versatile player who has played on the defensive line during his career in College Park, will also be counted upon as a leader and anchor of the line. Redshirt sophomore Jamie Wu, the strongest player on the team, was moved to the offensive line and will compete for playing time.
Former walk-on Mitch Watkins will enter the fall pre-season practices as a starter at guard. Watkins started the final six games of the 1996 season at left guard for the injured Pat Ward, and his play merited a starter's role in 1997. He was the only offensive or defensive starter in the ACC who was not a scholarship player last season. Watkins injured his knee at the end of the season and was held out of the first half of spring practices. Talented redshirt sophomore Eric Timothy needs only repetitions to earn playing time.
Redshirt sophomore Vince Xanthos and sophomore Ben Thomas are vying for the starting honors at center. Both Xanthos and Thomas can also play the guard positions.
Other players vying for a position on the depth chart include senior Ted Purnell and sophomore Brett Tramell. Maryland signed newcomers Mike George, Mike Sherman and Albert Surman.
Wide Receivers No. Name Pos Hgt. Wgt Yr. Hometown 3 Omar Cheeseboro WR 6-2 184 Fr.* East Orange, N.J. 4 Keon Russell WR 5-11 191 Jr.* Brooklyn, N.Y. 11 Kendrick Walton WR 6-3 181 Jr.* Dallas, Tex. 16 Curtis Jones WR 6-4 204 Fr.* Lancaster, Pa. 19 Bruce James WR 5-8 170 Jr.* Gretna, La. 27 Tony Jackson WR 6-1 190 Fr. Ellicott City, Md. 84 Doug Patterson WR 6-2 190 Fr. Shelby, Mich. 86 Moises Cruz WR 5-11 179 Fr.* Germantown, Md.
Wide Receivers: Bruce James, a redshirt junior who has caught 37 career passes, returns as Maryland's most experienced wide receiver. He caught at least one pass in all 11 games last season and has caught a pass in 13 consecutive games dating back to his redshirt freshman season. James had six multiple-catch games last season and his return adds a boost to the receivers group which lost Geroy Simon, the second-most prolific receiver in school history.
Redshirt junior Kendrick Walton has 10 career receptions, including a seven-yard touchdown reception versus Duke in 1996. He also caught four passes for 32 yards in the Terps' victory over Georgia Tech last season. He came on strong during the spring and stepped into a leadership role.
A pair of redshirt freshmen - Moises Cruz and Omar Cheeseboro - will both have the chance to earn extensive playing time in the Terps' multiple offensive sets. Cruz and Cheeseboro, listed one-two, respectively, at one of the receiver positions, could form a lethal duo and possibly surprise many defenders in the ACC this season. Both are quick off the line and have soft hands - characteristics of former Terps Jermaine Lewis and Geroy Simon, who stand first and second, respectively, among all-time Maryland receivers.
Redshirt junior Keon Russell, one of the Terps' most athletic players, has moved to wide receiver from the quarterback position and is expected to earn playing time at the position this fall. He came off the bench at Duke to lead the Terps to victory at quarterback in 1996.
Incoming freshmen Tony Jackson and Doug Patterson will add depth to the position.
Tight Ends No. Name Pos Hgt. Wgt. Yr. Hometown 81 Josh Hough TE 6-5 254 Sr.* Waynesboro, Pa. 82 Marlon Clary TE 6-3 250 Sr. Ft. Washington, Md. 88 Matt Murphy TE 6-5 220 Fr. New Haven, Mich. 89 Tim Brown TE 6-1 250 Sr. Brentwood, N.Y. 92 Mike Hull TE 6-6 244 Fr. Hagerstown, Md.
Tight Ends: Tim Brown, who started two games at tight end in 1996, enters the fall as the starter. Though he did not catch a pass from the position, he earned valuable playing time and experience. This season as the Terps move to a more traditional formation, which will utilize the tight end more often, Brown should see more passes come his way.
Redshirt freshman Mike Hull, who made big strides in the blocking and catching departments, will also look to play an expanded role at the position. Josh Hough, a redshirt senior who lined up quite often at the tight end position in 1996, should also see more passes. He will compete for significant playing time if he can completely recover from early spring knee surgery which held him out of spring ball.
Freshmen including Matt Murphy, along with senior Marlon Clary, should also play a part in the development of the tight end position.
Defensive Lineman No. Name Pos Hgt Wgt. Yr. Hometown 42 Eric Ogbogu DE 6-4 256 Sr. Tarrytown, N.Y. 53 Johnnie Hicks DL 6-2 267 Sr.* Harrisburg, Pa. 55 Rasheed Simmons DE 6-5 254 Jr. Edison, N.J. 57 Kris Jenkins DT 6-5 265 Fr. Ypsilanti, Mich. 58 Jason Brown DE 6-1 241 Sr.* White Springs, Fla. 59 Albert Surman OG 6-3 245 Fr. Pittsburgh, Pa. 59 Christopher Hayes DE 6-2 216 Jr.* Baltimore, Md. 65 Derrick Jones DT 6-3 265 Fr. Port Jefferson, N.Y. 67 Melvin Fowler, Jr. DT 6-4 265 Fr. Wheatley, N.Y. 76 Jason McCauley DL 6-2 257 Fr.* Key West, Fla. 90 Eric Hicks DE 6-6 248 Sr. Erie, Pa. 91 Delbert Cowsette DL 6-1 274 So* Cleveland, Ohio 93 Eric Calendine DE 6-4 235 So* Pittsford, N.Y. 95 Ramon Olivares DL 6-4 283 Sr. Shirley, N.Y. 96 Julian Hambrick DL 6-3 253 Fr. Elizabeth, N.J. 98 Anthony Jenkins DL 6-1 252 Sr.* Winston-Salem, N.C.
Defensive Line: Unquestionably, the most talent-laden unit on the team this season is the defensive line. Each of the four players who will start this season help form the basis of one of the strongest defensive fronts in recent memory in College Park. Three of the four players slated to start have extensive experience - not only in terms of games played but also in terms of games started.
A pair of redshirt seniors - Johnnie Hicks and Anthony Jenkins - will anchor the line from the tackle positions. Another pair of seniors - Eric Ogbogu and Eric Hicks - will stabilize the line from the end positions. Not only are the starters on the line as strong as ever, but the group of reserves could step in and start at any time.
Johnnie Hicks, who will start for the third consecutive season, has led the down linemen in tackles in three of the last four years and had seven tackles for minus yardage last season. He has six career quarterback sacks and has averaged 60 tackles per season during his career. Redshirt sophomore Delbert Cowsette, one of the bright young players in the ACC, will be the back-up at the position.
Jenkins will get the call to start for the first time in his career. Jenkins enjoyed the best spring of his career. Senior Ramon Olivares worked his way into the main defensive line rotation last season and looks to make a lasting impression in 1997.
Redshirt senior Eric Hicks recorded 43 tackles and four quarterback sacks a year ago and has developed into one of the more solid defensive ends in the ACC. Hicks's athleticism and power often allow him to find his way into the opponents' offensive backfield. Redshirt senior Jason Brown, who has been impressive on special teams during his career at Maryland, will get his chance to prove himself as a lineman in 1997. His solid play during the spring elevated his position on the depth chart to where he will be a factor in the Terps' defensive game plan.
Two-time All-ACC selection Eric Ogbogu and redshirt junior Rasheed Simmons have joined forces to form one of the more potent defensive end combinations in the ACC. Both players possess the height, speed and athleticism to keep opposing quarterbacks awake at night and they have the ability to disrupt many things an opponent may attempt during a game. Entering the fall, Ogbogu, Hicks and Simmons can expect to share playing time at those two positions with Brown contributing significantly.
Redshirt sophomore Eric Calendine was impressive last season as he appeared in five games and accounted for three tackles. He will enter the year as a top reserve at the position. Freshman Julian Hambrick, redshirt freshman Jason McCauley and redshirt junior Chris Hayes will also add depth to the position. Newcomers Melvin Fowler, Jr., Kris Jenkins and Derrick Jones will join the Terps.
Linebackers No. Name Pos Hgt. Wgt Yr. Hometown 29 Ryan Gick LB 5-10 207 Sr.* Waldorf, Md. 32 Kendall Ogle LB 6-1 224 Jr.* Irvington, N.J. 35 Jomo Huggins LB 6-3 223 So* Uniondale, N.Y. 41 Erwyn Lyght LB 6-0 210 So* Westfield, N.J. 44 Eric Barton LB 6-3 245 Jr. Alexandria, Va. 46 Reggie Lewis LB 6-2 215 Fr. Chicago, Ill. 48 Jon Watkins LB 5-11 230 Fr.* Perth Amboy, N.J. 50 Brett White LB 6-1 237 Sr.* Hornell, N.Y. 51 Rhett Hesperich LB 6-2 228 Sr.* Snellville, Ga. 52 Rashad Smith LB 6-2 231 So* Fort Washington, Md.
Linebackers: Eric Barton is a junior and that's bad news for Maryland's opponents. He became only the second sophomore in school history to lead the team in tackles as a sophomore and returns as the leader of the linebackers. His 106 tackles were 25 more than any other Terp defender.
Barton grew up quickly last season and earned Honorable Mention All-ACC honors for his efforts. His 106 tackles included six tackles for minus yardage and two quarterback sacks. Redshirt senior Brett White, who played in all 11 games in 1996, will provide a more than ample back-up to Barton at the inside linebacker position. White had 24 tackles and three quarterback sacks last season.
Kendall Ogle, a redshirt junior, is slated to be the starting strong side linebacker. He was third on the team in tackles with a career-high 75 stops as he performed in a starter's role throughout the season. Ogle recorded a career-high 14 stops versus West Virginia. Redshirt senior Rhett Hesperich, a talented player who saw action in eight games last season, will back-up Ogle.
Redshirt sophomore Erwyn Lyght has the chance to make a name for himself early in his career. He played in 10 games last season and moves from a special teams player to a starting linebacker. Ryan Gick, a redshirt senior, will provide capable back-up at the position.
Redshirt sophomores Rashad Smith and Jomo Huggins, a pair of relative newcomers to the position, will add depth at linebacker. Smith turned in one of the most exciting plays of the 1996 season with an interception versus Alabama-Birmingham, while Huggins is a converted defensive end.
The Terps signed incoming freshman Reggie Lewis to help bolster the depth at the position.
Secondary No. Name Pos. Hgt. Wgt Yr. Hometown 2 Henry Baker DB 6-2 200 Sr. Patterson, N.J. 12 Lynde Washington DB 5-8 172 So.* Upper Marlboro, Md. 13 Shawn Forte DB 6-1 194 Fr. Poughkeepsie, N.Y. 18 Todd Stewart DB 6-2 200 So. Washington, D.C. 20 Troy Davidson DB 6-0 177 So* Pittsburgh, Pa. 21 Ernest Grier DB 6-0 202 Sr. Absecon, N.J. 25 Clifton Crosby DB 5-10 173 Jr.* Erie, Pa. 26 Bryn Boggs DB 5-11 178 So* Downingtown, Pa. 27 Tony Jackson DB 6-1 190 Fr. Ellicott City, Md. 27 Daniel Eiskant DB 6-0 202 So* Alexandria, Va. 31 Darryl Giles DB 5-10 183 Sr. Suitland, Md. 36 Paul Jackson DB 6-0 187 Jr.* Clinton, Md. 37 Lewis Sanders DB 6-1 197 So. Staten Island, N.Y. 37 Chris Sanders DB 6-2 195 Fr. Winter Springs, Fla. 39 Quinzy Frazier DB 5-11 189 Jr. Rockville, Md. 43 Jason Apolenis DB 6-0 194 Jr.* Clarksburg, Md.
Secondary: Defensively there is no place on the field which is undergoing more change than the secondary. The entire starting unit must be replaced; a unit which included first-round NFL draft choice Chad Scott.
Henry Baker, a senior, and Paul Jackson, a redshirt junior, are slated to start at the strong and free safety positions. Baker started the final two games of the season at the position and recorded 10 tackles. He had 26 stops on the season and broke-up one pass.
Jackson gained valuable playing time in the defensive backfield last season when he recorded 14 tackles and broke up two passes. He is a talented cover man who will get better with experience.
Lewis Sanders, a true sophomore who also gained playing time in the crowded defensive backfield in 1996, returns as a starter at cornerback. He recorded six tackles and gained valuable playing experience. Redshirt sophomore Lynde Washington will compete for playing time as the understudy to Sanders.
Troy Davidson was a receiver last season but enters the 1997 season as the starter at cornerback opposite Sanders. He was moved from offense to defense along with his back-up Clifton Crosby to make use of their outstanding athletic ability. A second of the Terps' transfer students, Bryn Boggs, will also look to make an impact at the corner position. Boggs could also see time returning kicks.
Seniors Ernest Grier and Darryl Giles, juniors Quinzy Frazier and Jason Apolenis, redshirt freshman Shawn Forte and newcomers Chris Snader and Tony Jackson could figure in prominent roles as freshman. Todd Stewart and Daniel Eiskant will add depth to the position.