The Washington Times - August 31, 2009, 09:53AM

Terrell Skinner knew long ago how much of an impact Adrian Cannon could have as a college wide receiver.

As in, well before either made it to Maryland.

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Skinner, now a safety, first got to know Cannon when the two attended Florida State’s camp when both were in high school. Skinner was there along with Louis Murphy (who is now with the Oakland Raiders by way of Florida), and he liked what he saw of the Michigan native.

So when Cannon paid a visit to Maryland during Skinner’s first year in College Park, he knew he needed to convince his friend to join him in the ACC.

Now, Cannon looks like he could be the Terps’ breakout star on offense. And Skinner isn’t the least bit surprised.

“For Adrian, he’s always been a great player,” Skinner said. “I think it’s a matter of coaches having confidence in him and confidence in himself. We talk closely, because I think we’ve had similar situations where we both think we should be playing. We talked about and I kept telling him to keep his head up.”

Cannon adjusted his approach to nearly everything in the last nine months. He bumped his grades up after a lousy semester. He’s manhandled Maryland’s defensive backs during camp.

And in many ways, it started with a long touchdown reception early in the Humanitarian Bowl – a short route that permitted him to demonstrate his smarts, and then maybe a little more speed than would be expected from a 6-foot-2, 204-pounder.

“Everybody’s so caught up on 40 times and all that other stuff, but it’s all about field speed,” Skinner said. “He has plenty of that, and he’s very elusive.”

It carried over into winter workouts, then the spring, then the summer.

Now, he’s in position to parlay it into a strong season.

“He’s stepped his game up,” roommate and fellow wideout LaQuan Williams said. “Like he said, he’s stopped BSing.”

That’s a welcome development for Maryland, which entered the last two seasons with an obvious No. 1 wideout in Darrius Heyward-Bey. At this stage, either Cannon or Torrey Smith will probably emerge as quarterback Chris Turner’s top target.

“With Darrius leaving, it opened up a lot of doors for a lot of other young guys to step up,” Skinner said.

Skinner just happened to know Cannon could do it long before nearly anyone else did.

Patrick Stevens