- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 2, 2005

Ralph Friedgen is back in the weight room.

After enduring his first losing season last fall, the Maryland football coach figures he better spend more of the offseason with players and less with boosters and fund-raisers.

“I got stuck in my office too much building facilities and raising money [in past years] and got away from the kids,” Friedgen said. “They need to see another side of me. … Getting back to being a team is what won in the past. We were able to play for each other. If we can do that, we’ll be successful.”

The Terrapins open spring workouts today in search of a starting quarterback. Maryland also needs to rebuild its offensive and defensive lines and secondary, plus find some special teams standouts and a featured running back before the opening game against Navy on Sept.3.

Regrouping from last year’s 5-6 season won’t be easy for a program that won 31 games, two bowls and an ACC championship in his Friedgen’s first three seasons. It might not even happen this season.

“The future of this program is in the next couple years,” Friedgen conceded.

After losing many stars, Maryland is left mostly with a bunch of blue-collar unknowns. Fortunately, that’s what Friedgen used to build his early success.

“I see a renewed determination that they want to go to a bowl,” he said. “Last year I don’t know if they wanted to go to a bowl.”

Sam Hollenbach, Jordan Steffy and Joel Statham return to audition for the starting quarterback job. Statham lost the job last season, and Friedgen has not committed to a starter in the Red/White game April30. Ryan Mitch left the team after playing little last year.

“Spring practice is going to be very, very big,” Friedgen said. “One thing that’s different this time is everyone has experience. I have a feeling we’ll be better because of that. If not, then we’re not improving.”

Running back Mario Merrills is the leader to replace Josh Allen, who will miss the season after undergoing knee surgery. Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball also will be featured in drills, but J.P. Humber will be limited after shoulder surgery.

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