Terrapin tackling his image

August 25, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Kendall Ogle is out to change his image.

The University of Maryland linebacker is poised and intelligent, courteous and patient. He's mature enough to accept setbacks, making him what might be considered a gracious loser.

This year, Ogle is out to drop the latter half of that title.

Ogle was the second leading tackler in the Atlantic Coast Conference last year, good enough to be considered for some ACC postseason honors.

But that was all he was, considered.

Ogle is out to change that, too.

"I was disappointed, but sometimes things are overlooked," Ogle said Sunday during the ACC media tour. "Last year, there were a lot of great linebackers in the conference who did a lot of hard work. I felt like the guys who got it deserved it."


That's gracious. The 6-foot-1, 231-pound senior had to be understanding, especially since the 138 tackles he made didn't seem to leave much of an impression. Only Clemson's Anthony Simmons was in on more tackles in 1997.

Part of the Ogle's problem was playing for a Terrapins' team which weren't exactly media darlings or national television candidates because of a 2-9 record. The equation usually goes: A lack of visibility equals a lack of recognition.

"I have a lot of pride in my ability and football skills," Ogle said. "The commentators don't give me a lot of credit. This year is our chance to make a run. If I'm good enough to get All-ACC honors, I don't want to leave here not getting them. I want to make sure I don't want to leave without showing what I can do."

The Terps can help keep Ogle and Eric Barton, Maryland's other overlooked inside linebacker, just by playing better defense.

Maryland's pass defense was as porous as its offense was anemic. The Terps scored few points and gave up pass yardage like it was frequent flier mileage, taking away all focus from Barton and Ogle.

But, Maryland has made a concerted effort to bolster the defense this season, especially the secondary.

"We have made some changes defensively," Ogle said. "A stronger secondary will help a lot. Last year, on first and second down, we'd stop the run and then third down would be a pass and it would all go for naught."

Going for naught is the nicest way to describe Maryland's lost season under first-year coach Ron Vanderlinden. It started with an embarrassing loss to Ohio University and never really got high enough to go downhill.

"Last year, we thought that we were going to beat them just by being on the field," Ogle said. "When we lost that game, it was the beginning of the end."

It was a tough lesson to learn, but the Ohio University disaster is bringing the Terps out of their shell for Sept. 5's opener with James Madison.

"I think we'll surprise a few people this year, but we have to start with a win," Ogle said. "We are approaching this game like it was Florida State. It's like the toughest opponent we'll face all year."

A big opener would be helpful springboard for Ogle and his quest to be recognized by TV analysts everywhere, even though he graciously denies any such thoughts.

"If it happens, it happens," Ogle said. "If it doesn't, it doesn't."

The Herald-Mail Articles