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.

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.

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.

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.