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Injury bug gets Perry once again

August 16, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland football team is hoping Bruce Perry has a long memory with indelible recall.

That way, the senior running back can conjure up the good times of the 2001 season while fast-forwarding through the 18 months of agony which have followed.

After a glorious sophomore season, Perry has spent the last 1 1/2 years recovering from a number of nagging injuries. The senior came to Terrapins camp in good health and with high expectations only to be bitten by the injury bug again, placing his chances of playing in the season opener at Northern Illinois on Aug. 28 in jeopardy.

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"He has a high ankle sprain and he could miss two to six weeks," Friedgen said. "It all depends on him, but he might not play in the first game."

Still, it's another setback for Perry, who came out of nowhere in 2001 to become the star tailback for a Maryland team that shocked the nation and stunned the Atlantic Coast Conference by winning the league title and advancing to a Bowl Championship Series berth in the Orange Bowl in its first year under Friedgen.

Perry adapted to Friedgen's offensive style to become the ACC's Offensive Player of the Year with 1,242 yards rushing, 359 yards receiving and a combined 12 touchdowns.

But before the Orange Bowl, Perry suffered an abdominal strain which was followed by a torn groin muscle and an injured shoulder. Perry recovered in time to play the final four games of last season.

Perry came to Maryland's camp to reclaim his spot in the spotlight, but got slowed again a twist of fate and a twist of his ankle.

"It was on the second play of a scrimmage and the play rolled up on his ankle," Friedgen said. "He hit and landed funny. It's a shame because he has been working so hard to get back."

Perry attended Wednesday morning's practice on crutches while wearing a boot to immobilize the ankle. Friedgen has made efforts to help keep the tailback from losing his drive.

"The reason I was a little late because I saw Bruce walking to the dorm and I gave him a lift in the golf cart," Friedgen said. "He's bound and determined not to let this keep him out long. He had three treatments already (on Wednesday morning)."

Friedgen didn't make any predictions on Perry's availability, but the coach knows he can't afford to wait for the tailback to heal. Other tailbacks are being pressed into service, including a number of freshmen who are gaining early experience and ample chance to prove their abilities.

"It's too early to tell (how long Perry will be down)," Friedgen said. "But he hasn't been a fast healer in the past."

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