April 27, 1997
Sophomore Grabs Chance to Play FB, Runs with It
Timmins Shifts from LB in Terps' New Offense
By Paul McMullen, The Baltimore Sun
COLLEGE PARK , Md. - In a Maryland spring game in which there were more drops than receptions, fullback Peter Timmins was asked about the only ball he touched, a 24 yard catch and run that was the offensive highlight for his White team.
Had many balls thrown your way before, Pete?
"Never," Timmins said. "I've never played offense in my life. Take that back. My freshman year in high school, I was the quarterback on the JV, but I was sacked more times than I completed passes. After that, I became a linebacker."
An abundance of talent at inside linebacker and a lack of size in the Terps' backfield led to his switch to offense three weeks ago. After three weeks of practice, the sophomore finished the spring as the No.1 fullback, but Timmins understands that the lessons have just begun after a 17-0 win for the Red that included just one offensive touchdown.
Under first-year coach Ron Vanderlinden, the Terps will run their third offense in as many seasons. Maryland finished last in the Atlantic Coast Conference in yards gained each of the past two years, and the most recent offensive shake-up will require a multi-talented, H-back type, the likes of which the Terps haven't seen since Frank Wychek.
Enter Timmins, 6 feet 3 and 217 pounds. He was a prep standout in Staten Island, N.Y., but had the misfortune of entering Maryland with Eric Barton, who led the Terps in tackles as a freshman. Vanderlinden asked Timmins to play catch for a few minutes as the second week of spring practice began, and he was open to suggestion.
"Eric has always been an outstanding player, and I didn't see that changing," Timmins said. "I saw the opportunity for more playing time on offense, but honestly, when Coach asked me to catch some balls that one day, I thought it was for tight end. I caught some over my shoulders and I guess he liked what he saw.
"I've played basketball my entire life, and I think that's going to help, but there is so much to pick up. Not necessarily the scheme, but the technique. As a linebacker, everything was about getting off a block. As a fullback, it's about staying on one."
Timmins didn't get any carries yesterday before an estimated crowd of 2,500 at Byrd Stadium, but he did make a sure grab on the one pass that came his way.
"The first play he ran with the offense in practice, he ran a seam down the middle and made a nice, over-the-shoulder catch for a long gain," said Mike Locksley, who coaches the Terps' running backs. "This is not an easy adjustment for him to make, but this offense allows him to be aggressive.
"Peter's got the body type and mentality to handle the demands of the position. He's a good blocker, but at the same time his hand-eye coordination is excellent. I think the experiment worked out perfectly."
Unless Eric James, who's still at Anacostia High in Washington, is more mature than your average freshman, Timmins will be the starting fullback when the Terps open next September.
Brian Cummings solidified his hold on the No.1 quarterback spot, completing 10 of 15 for 90 yards for the Red team. The Red's first touchdown came on the third play, when Ernest Grier intercepted Ken Mastrole and ran 23 yards.
Cummings used play-action on Red's first possession to find sophomore fullback Kenny Rogers for a 5-yard touchdown. The Red added a 46-yard field goal by Brad Rhodes, and the good news for the Terps on that side also included a strong showing by Damone Boone, as the tailback helped his stock with 58 yards on nine carries.
NOTES: The Terps released tentative starting times for their six home games. Ohio University (Sept.6), North Carolina (Sept.20) and Duke (Oct.4) are set for 6 p.m.; West Virginia (Oct.11), Clemson (Oct.25) and Virginia (Nov.1) will start at 1 p.m. The Clemson game will serve as homecoming. ... After a flea flicker on Red's first offensive play, both offenses were pretty vanilla. ... Vanderlinden split his squad evenly. ... Right tackle John Feugill, rehabilitating a broken foot, was given the chance to select his team, and he went with White. "Those guys [Red] are going to talk so much trash."