More on Yeatman

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In case you missed it today, here’s a dead-tree edition story about Maryland lacrosse attackmanWill Yeatman’s interest in playing football for the Terrapins next year.

Yeatman, of course, played football as well as lacrosse at Notre Dame before his transfer to College Park last spring. What’s also interesting is there are a lot of loose strands all over the place involved here.

Namely:

* Yeatman is still playing lacrosse this spring. The savvy Yeatman made it a point to say a few times that his main priority right now is preparing for the spring lacrosse season. Right now, that involves the sport’s fall ball season (which just started Monday). So don’t expect to see Yeatman playing football during spring practice.

* Yeatman has a year of football eligibility left, and he needs to use it in 2010. This is the NCAA’s “four seasons in five years” deal. Yeatman played parts of three seasons at Notre Dame, and 2009 is his transfer year for football purposes. So if he’s going to play Division I football again, it’s going to be in 2010 and it’s going to be at Maryland.

* Based on that same rule, Yeatman could theoretically play two more years of lacrosse at Maryland – if not for a slight problem. Yeatman played one season (2007) at Notre Dame, then played in one scrimmage in 2008 before he was suspended for the season. Maryland listed him as a junior in 2009, and he’ll play again this spring. But people have gotten back seasons despite playing in more than a solitary January scrimmage. For now, though, 2010 would be Yeatman’s final lacrosse season.

* If Yeatman even practices with the football team, his scholarship will count against football’s 85-man limit rather than lacrosse. Ah, football coaches. They are a crafty lot, and their schemes have a way of forcing rules to become tighter. If football coaches could, say, have guys go on a golf scholarship and not have it count against them, that would lend a slight advantage and allow the stockpiling of talent.

Such shenanigans are a no-no, though. So if Yeatman was practicing with football right now, he’d occupy a Maryland football scholarship and lacrosse coach Dave Cottle would have more money to spread around.

* Unlike this year, Maryland is facing a football scholarship crunch next season. The Terps are unofficially operating with 83 scholarship players this season after the departure of Dion Armstrong and the decision to ‘ship Andrew Gonnella and Paul Pinegar. But the Terps only have 12 scholarship seniors, so on paper there are 14 scholarships at their disposal for 2010.

There will be attrition, as usual, after the season (seven scholarship underclassmen from last year’s team are no longer in the program). But with 16 players (including two prep school guys) already committed to sign in February, it’s clear the Terps will be judicious in who they dole out their final scholarships to.

* On the flip side, a year of a legitimate Division I tight end has to be awfully appealing. Looking ahead a year in the Maryland football crystal ball, the Terps will have a new starting quarterback, and will lose starters at center, fullback and tight end. That’s it for scheduled departures for the entire offense.

Maryland has four scholarship tight ends set to return next season – Lansford Watson, Matt Furstenburg, Devonte Campbell and Dave Stinebaugh. Adding a big, sure-handed senior who briefly started at Notre Dame (albeit when the Irish were awful) would provide an additional friendly option for whoever is adjusting to playing under center next fall.

Ultimately, this is a bit of a gift for Maryland’s football program, even if it costs them a scholarship for a year.

Yeatman wants to play again, admitting how much he’s even missed the drudgery of camp. He’s already talked with offensive coordinator James Franklin, who would probably find a good use for such a big target. And with a 34-29 record over the last five-plus years, it’s not like Maryland is in much a position to ignore talent left on its doorstep.

Plenty of variables remain in play, and it’s far from a done deal. But looking at this rationally from the vantage point of each party, Yeatman returning to football next year at Maryland just makes too much sense for it not to happen.

Patrick Stevens

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