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Terps need someone to burst to stardom

September 12, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland has been college football's talent scouts for the last few years.

Lately, whenever a player bursts on the national scene, he has seemed to do it by bursting through one of the Terrapins' front lines. Case in point, Virginia quarterback Aaron Brooks.

Brooks is one of the reasons the Cavaliers are ranked No. 12 in the polls. And it all started when Brooks had his coming-out party at Byrd Stadium last season by completing 11 of 16 passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-0 victory over the Terps.

Now, when Maryland heads to Virginia for today's Atlantic Coast Conference opener at noon, Terrapins coach Ron Vanderlinden is hopeful the Cavs return the favor.

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"We're young enough where a lot of things could happen," Vanderlinden said. "I think we'll go down there to play a competitive game, but we need to get better."

To show improvement, Maryland's fortunes fall primarily on the shoulders of two players - one looking for an identity, the other needing to re-establish one. Then, there's a third who is Maryland's coming-out party candidate.

Quarterback Ken Mastrole needs the identity. Tailback LaMont Jordan needs to regain his freshman year form. And waiting in the wings? There's Thomas Johnson High product Randall Jones, who is becoming known as the quarterback in waiting.

Maryland is a 28-point underdog to Virginia, despite last Saturday's 23-15 victory over James Madison, an NCAA Division I-AA school. The problem? Maryland got one touchdown on an interception return and two field goals off JMU mistakes.

Jordan, who is coming off a foot injury, didn't play against James Madison. Mastrole was in his first start in a new offense. And Jones, who played only two plays, has only become a question of when he will become Maryland's quarterback.

Without Jordan, the Terps managed just 42 yards on 42 carries against James Madison.

"His healing process was slow," Vanderlinden said. "The last thing we wanted to do was bring him back too early."

But Jordan is saddled with being Maryland's offensive catalyst. The Terps will need his help, especially after Virginia held then-ranked Auburn to 18 yards rushing and under 200 yards of total offense in its opener last week, a 19-0 victory.

"I'm not down on LaMont, but the ship has moved forward, and he has to catch up," Vanderlinden said. "He has to come back to form."

Mastrole led Maryland past James Madison, but there's room for improvement.

"Kenny was concerned with playing within the offense, making the right decisions and putting the ball where he needed it to be," Vanderlinden said. "Overall, I thought he played good enough to win. It was a good first step."

Meanwhile, Jones could be the candidate to be the next Aaron Brooks.

"It will be possible to see Randall. It's possible, but it's hard to say," Vanderlinden said.

For Maryland, it's an open-ended game. Expectations are low, especially since the Terps have been outscored 204-86 in the last six meetings - all losses - while rushing for 1.5 yards per carry.

"We're going to bow up and be ready, but our season isn't going to hinge on this game though," Vanderlinden said. "I'm just worried about Maryland and getting better."

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