The Washington Times - September 4, 2008, 10:44AM

Cornerback Kevin Barnes and guard Phil Costa were the first two Maryland players to carry a ginormous flag onto the Byrd Stadium field before a game this past weekend.

They both got a little more than they bargained for.

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Turns out, it’s not easy running the length of the field with what basically amounts to have a deployed parachute on your back.

“Ah, man, I was really surprised how heavy that was,” Barnes said. Someone said “‘Don’t let that flag drag on the ground’ and I’m like ‘OK, OK.’ Then when I started running, it was like pulling back and the wind was catching it. Costa said the same thing.”

Barnes, who grew up not far from D1scourse headquarters in Glen Burnie, brought in the Maryland state flag. Costa, a New Jersey native, hauled in the American flag.

From up in the press box, it looked like the 6-foot-1, 188-pound Barnes labored a bit once he hit midfield. Costa – a big boy at 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds – was a bit steadier in his run but still quickly found who he needed to hand the flag to upon reaching the end zone before heading to the sideline.

“It was heavy and it was hot out there, too. It was a 100-yard sprint, but it was exciting,” Costa said. “After about 70 yards, I was like ‘Man, I got to put this thing down and catch my breath for the first snap.’”

Costa, by the way, is holds the program’s record among offensive linemen for the clean (420 pounds) and is second in the vertical leap (35.5 inches), so his combination of athleticism and strength would make him an ideal candidate for this sort of duty.

So it’s worth wondering: While marketing guru Brian Ullmann has come up with an interesting idea, how many volunteers will he have to carry the flag once the word spreads it is a bit tougher than just running over to the student section like many players normally do?

“I’m glad I’m the first to do it,” Barnes said, “But I don’t see myself doing it too many more times.”

Patrick Stevens