The Washington Times - July 20, 2008, 06:36PM

Wide receiver Stephen Smalls and linebacker/defensive end/whatever Brian Whitmore are gone from Maryland’s program, but not forgotten.

Both guys are transferring out (and quite possibly down) after not seeing the field in their first two seasons.

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Smalls – also known as Jordan Steffy’s high school teammate – was caught in a massive numbers crunch. The Terrapins had 14 wide receivers on scholarship, and allocating one of every six scholarships to a wideout simply isn’t a good way to go into a season. It’s no surprise Maryland’s scholarship crunch was solved in part by debiting a receiver.

Whitmore doesn’t have the distinction of being the high school teammate of one of the contenders for the starting quarterback position. He was something of a tweener – I’m calling him a linebacker since he seemed like a better fit for the Terps’ LEO position than anything else. But no matter his position, he didn’t even make a trip last year. It’s tough to believe Maryland was actually counting on much from him.

Now, there’s really two numbers that matter in connection with these two guys: 85 and 2006.

The first number, obviously, is the Division I scholarship limit for football. On Signing Day, Maryland was locked into 92 guys for those 85 slots.

Well, Chris Clinton was booted from the team. Then Pha’Terrell Washington flunked out. Freshman Tyler Bass refused to grayshirt, was released from his scholarship, and wound up at Memphis. Smalls and Whitmore are gone, and freshmen Cody Blue and Eteyen Edet are expected to attend prep school.

And – ta-da! – Maryland checks in at 85 scholarships more than fortnight before camp starts.

That’s swell, and one less headache for Ralph Friedgen. But given the importance of not messing up in recruiting for even one year, he has to worry a bit about what has become of his 2006 class.

I mentioned this last month when Washington’s academic problems came to an apex. Maryland had 22 players in that class; one (Melvin Alaeze) didn’t even make it to campus, and the Terps should probably be thankful of that.

But toss in Clinton, Jeremy Ricker, Taji Thornton, Smalls, Washington and Whitmore, and things have been sliced down a bit. And since Bruce Campbell, Quinton McCree and Ronnie Tyler ultimately attended prep school and joined the Terps in time for the 2007 season, let’s take them out of the equation for 2006 as well. It’s also fair to point out 2005 signee Morgan Green, who did join the program after a semester at prep school, is included in this group.

That leaves 12 third-year players on scholarship out of the original 22, an incredible attrition rate for less than 30 months after those letters of intent were first signed.

There are some good players left from Signing Day ‘06: Fullback Cory Jackson, the only member of the group to play as a true freshman; linebacker Adrian Moten; and tailbacks Green and Da’Rel Scott.

This was a recruiting class ranked 28th nationally by rivals.com on Signing Day, but even then it was doomed to be remembered for all the in-state guys the Terps lost to Penn State. It’s still a sore subject with Maryland fans, who get themselves into quite a tizzy whenever that particular group is mentioned.

(By the way, Ralph’s reaction on that signing day: “I never get disappointed with the kids you don’t get. Obviously I would like kids to stay in-state here, but they have to make their choices, and we have to go on about our way, too. We’ll continue to recruit the state as hard as we possibly can.”)

Yes, Penn State’s haul from the D.C. ‘burbs turned out to have plenty of pyrite mixed in with a little bit of gold. But at this rate, it’ll still be a better class than what Maryland managed to squeeze out of the Nittany Lions’ leftovers.

Of course, the popular storyline in 2006 was Penn State did well at the expense of Maryland. It looks like everyone missed the boat and the Larry Johnson Raiding Party didn’t do such a great job as first thought.

But that doesn’t mean the Terps’ recruiting work paid off that year, either.

 – Patrick Stevens