Postcards from Jacksonville: Day 4 At The Gator Bowl
Dec. 29, 2003
Fast Fact of the Day: The Maryland/West Virginia rematch in the Gator Bowl marks the second time in the bowl's history that the game will pit two teams that played in the regular season. The only other time came in 1945 when Wake Forest re-matched with South Carolina 58 years ago.
By Jason Yellin
JACKSONVILLE -- As the Terps continued practice, the highlights of Monday came after the players continued to prep for the bowl as 19 players went to the Wolfson Children's Hospital in Jacksonville to spread good cheer.
The trip was so popular that 35 Terps actually signed up to go but only 19 were allowed as per Gator Bowl regulations of two groups at the hospital.
Visiting sick and recovering children is something that is very close to many of the Terps. They enjoy meeting patients and talking about football and school. The group that went to the hospital included many starting players including: Madieu Williams, Curome Cox, Nick Novak, Jafar Williams, Steve Suter, Domonique Foxworth and Raymond Custis.
Madieu Williams had a special connection as he served an internship last summer at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, during which he talked and laughed with the sick kids, many of them terminally ill for long periods of time.
Weatherly particularly touched the hearts of many at the hospital as he got close with many of the children and even picked up one of the baby patients and held him for a while.
Wilson also had fun wheeling around the cart of snowmen the players handed out to the patients.
Several TV stations and local media outlets were on hand to cover the hospital visit.
Coach Friedgen was extremely pleased with the number of players who chose to go to the hospital and says it spoke highly of his team's character.
Earlier in the day, of course, the Terps practiced at Jacksonville University. The practice started around 10:45 a.m.
More of the players continued to make tributes to teammates by trading practice jerseys. Notably, the offensive linemen were popular choices to trade with especially for the Terps' top two running backs. Bruce Perry donned C.J. Brooks' No. 74, while Brooks took the No. 6 Perry has been wearing at practice. Josh Allen, who wore Eric Dumas' No. 75 on Sunday, traded with Lamar Bryant on Monday and wore No. 73. Stephon Heyer and Dan Melendez swapped No. 70 and 85.
While the Terps were entering the field, a hot debate continued as Ricardo Dickerson and Jafar Williams compared which state has better players - Maryland or Pennsylvania. The debate engaged many the Terps before the whistle blew to start drills.
The team went through practice session of about two hours as they continued to refine their gameplan for the West Virginia clash in the Gator Bowl on New Year's Day.
The Terps suffered their first injury of the bowl week as back-up quarterback Orlando Evans suffered a right knee injury midway through practice and he will be re-evaluated later this week.
Practice finished around 12:50 p.m. with the media making their entrance at the JU field.
Comcast SportsNet's Chick Hernandez was on hand for the first time along with the "Voice of the Terps" Johnny Holliday. Hernandez spoke to the members of the Terps secondary for a feature as well as backs Josh Allen and Bruce Perry.
Holliday did many of his drop in spots with Terp seniors that you will hear during the broadcast on New Year's Day. Perry was pumped he got his on the first try.
The popular interviews were with Perry, Cox, Suter, and Foxworth.
Following the practice, the Terps hit the weight room at JU for about 30 minutes before heading back to the hotel or to the hospital.