Aug. 21, 1997
Cummings drive and determination should serve Terps well this season.
Four years have passed since Brian Cummings began establishing himself as one of the most driven players in the history of Maryland football.
During that time, the fiery quarterback from Eastchester, N.Y. led the Terps to a 4-0 start as a sophomore in 1995. Then he battled through two concussions and a separated throwing shoulder last season. His competitive spirit at times grows so intense that it works against him.
Now Cummings, a 5 foot 11, 195-pound fifth year senior, has emerged as indispensable under first-year head coach Ron Vanderlinden. And if Vanderlinden's playbook will be the blueprint for victory this season, Cummings' determination will be the catalyst.
"Whatever spark I had as a sophomore, whatever spark I had last year, I hope to have that for a complete 12-game season," Cummings said, looking ahead to the Terps' first bowl game since 1990.
The 1997 season signals a new era, not only for the Terps but for Cummings himself. Cummings, a 19th round-round pick in the major league draft, skipped Maryland baseball last spring for the first time. And because of the quarterback controversy in 1995 (when senior Scott Milanovich returned from a gambling suspension and spoiled Maryland's 4-0 start) and the rampant injuries in 1996, this season provides Cummings his best shot to achieve goals.
"Needless to say, the only goal is to get to a bowl," says Cummings father Gerald, "He's always been loaded with fire, but he may be at the point now where he can channel it a little bit better."
Redirecting the fire is Cummings' focus in the preseason practices. Ever since he endured a street-corner mugging in his hometown at age 14, he has been fearless and driven. Now, however, he has learned those important qualities sometimes can lead to impatience and misunderstandings.
"Through my whole life, I've had problems with my temper." Cummings said, "I never though it was bad because I just wanted everything to be perfect...Slowly but surely, I've matured. But there are still flashes every once in a while of this crazy man. I think sometimes my teammates like seeing that, but I still need to control it."
Says Vanderlinden: "Some of the things you love can also be some of the things you hate. He needs to pick moments to allow his emotion to show so it elicits reaction. And it has to be the encouraging type of emotion because the other can be divisive."
Cummings' athletic skills have never been questioned. In 1995, his running ability and versatility to former coach Mark Duffner's run-and-shoot offense and sparked the 4-0 start. Last season, his presence inspired a record-setting victory over Wake Forest and an emotional win over nationally-ranked Georgia Tech.
More often, though, Cummings is being recognized for his grasp on the game. And although he would like to play professional football or baseball, he has also though about becoming a graduate assistant and learning to coach. In fact, Cummings says Vanderlinden's "eyes lit up" when Cummings approached him to discuss the idea of becoming a coach.
"When you get to be a senior, you lawyers think about what's next," Cummings says, "I see the way head coaches come in, and sometimes I'm so impressed with how organized they are, with the stories they can tell and the way they handle situations...I want to be in that situation one day and I want to be the leader that Coach Vanderlinden is."
Cummings says his performance this year will have a big impact on how his future develops. And Gerald Cummings laughingly says after bringing up the idea of his son's future once, he "realized it would be a wait-and -see approach." Hence, nothing is really sure for Cummings, except a relentless pursuit of success this season and a future in sports.
"Everything that interests me is competition and sports," Cummings says' "Whether it's coaching it or playing it-that's just the stuff that I was brought up on and the stuff that I love."