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Terps fans head south

January 03, 2002

Terps fans head south



By ANDREW SCHOTZ
andrews@herald-mail.com


David Hawkins of Frederick, Md., was 4 years old when he first got a University of Maryland football season ticket.

Was he too young to appreciate Charlie Wysocki and Mike Tice and the 1980 Tangerine Bowl team?

Probably.

Hawkins, 25, one of the local Terrapin loyalists going to Miami for Wednesday's FedEx Orange Bowl, can recite the big names over the years - Boomer Esiason, Stan Gelbaugh, Rick Badanjek.

Obviously, Hawkins has seen them in person, since he's only missed six home games since 1979. Still, the more recent stars and squads are more clear in his mind, so he's not ready to say the 2001 team is the best he's known.

After a 5-6 record in 2000, Maryland was 10-1 in the 2001 regular season and won the Atlantic Coast Conference title. The Terrapins are ranked No. 6 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

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Yet, they're a 16-point underdog to the Florida Gators in the Orange Bowl.

No matter how the game turns out, it's been a fantastic year, said Hal Hawkins, David's father.

The ACC title and the 10 wins are great, but the strength of the program is more substantial.

"You can see a big future," he said. "Going down (for the Orange Bowl) is the icing on the cake."

David and his brother, Todd, 27, who also got a season ticket at 4 years old, are going to the Orange Bowl together. Their father isn't going.

Hal Hawkins, who has had a season ticket for 27 years, thought for a while about going. By the time he called to price a ticket package, it was more than he wanted to pay.

It's been at least 25 years since Bill Lightner of Hagerstown started going to Maryland football and basketball games as a season ticket holder.

First-year football coach Ralph Friedgen has "created a lot of enthusiasm and interest," said Lightner, who will attend the Orange Bowl with his brother and two friends.

The team's instant success has been a joy, but Lightner wonders if the benchmark is too high for Friedgen's own good.

"You like to start off low and work your way to the top," he said. "I hope we don't fall off the top."

Lightner, a life member of the Terrapin Club, is a "Top Terp," the highest level of financial support for Maryland athletics. It requires a contribution of $10,000 or more.

The most dogged of Maryland fans likes to know the tiny details.

Lightner knows that Friedgen has 19 verbal commitments for football players coming to Maryland on scholarships next year and that six scholarships are left.

Jim Klein of Smithsburg, another Terrapin Club member, can tell you exactly how many more players are bench-pressing 300 pounds since Friedgen took over.

Klein, who coached the Smithsburg High School girls' volleyball team to a state title in November, will go to the Orange Bowl with a friend.

Normally, at Terrapins home football games, he sits with about a dozen friends from Owings Mills, Md.

Klein, 31, calls himself a "homer." He roots for Maryland, the Washington Wizards, the Washington Capitals and the Baltimore Orioles.

He's said he's glad to see a good Terrapins football team after "a decade of mediocrity."

Klein hopes to pack a full weekend into his trip to the game. Tailgate parties are part of the plans.

The same is true for David Hawkins, who calls his trip "a dream come true."

Hawkins said he comes from a family where Maryland football is "a type of religion."

"In this house, everything rotates around football," he said. "You don't do anything on a Saturday without checking the game time."

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