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Books are building blocks for Edsall

Terps players see new coach puts priority on academics

- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 1, 2011

Maryland's five weeks of spring practice are complete, and realistically little is known about how the Terrapins will look in the fall under new coach Randy Edsall.

Offensive coordinator Gary Crowton deployed less than half of his playbook in Saturdays spring game at sun-splashed - though far from packed - Byrd Stadium. Defensive coordinator Todd Bradfords unit used only one front.

It was an afternoon of few revelations, just as little was learned about how the Terrapins would function as the spring unfolded.

Indeed, the more telling changes with Maryland remain off the field. And the biggest endorsements for Edsall's adjustments come from players who, on the surface, might seem like the least probable advocates.

Senior wide receiver Quintin McCree participated only in Saturday sessions throughout the spring. During the week, he worked on his academic situation rather than practice, evidence of Edsall's demands of players to make schoolwork a priority.

McCree hardly had big numbers in the spring game, catching four passes for 25 yards. But he still went through what he considers a transformation during his first semester under Edsall, who was hired Jan. 2 to replace the fired Ralph Friedgen.

"The day he walked in and gave a speech, I knew he was about business," McCree said. "I knew 'That's it. Its like when I went to Hargrave Military Academy. It was no playing around. It was straight academics."

Few were more likely to find themselves in Edsall's crosshairs than McCree, who had 16 receptions for 188 yards as a junior. But he was declared academically ineligible for the Military Bowl and sat out Marylands season-ending rout of East Carolina.

Days later, Edsall arrived. Soon enough, McCree figured out how he fared that semester would dictate if he had any future with the program entering his final season. As the spring concluded, McCree said he is on pace earn his American studies degree in the fall but will need to take three classes this summer to do so.

"I feel the last couple months have really straightened me [out]," McCree said. "I feel what coach Edsall is doing has opened my eyes to a lot of things I was'nt seeing before. Its not kicking my butt, because if it was kicking my butt, then I wouldn't be here. They could have easily said 'Your grades are kind of iffy, we don't want you to practice. But hes right there helping me on the front line."

Like McCree, kicker Nick Ferrara found himself in dicey academic straits after Edsall took over. Ferrara also was a Saturdays-only participant, hardly ideal for a player whose use was limited last season because of injuries and then ineffectiveness.

And just as McCree did, Ferrara vouched for Edsall's methods and priorities as the spring came to a close.

"Everyone needs that at some point in their life, and I'm really appreciative. ," said Ferrara, who was particularly happy with knowing precisely what was expected of him. "Everyone knows its a business. Nothings given to you, and youre going to have to work for it."

Such is the Edsall credo. While its uncertain what to expect of the Terps schematically when their Sept. 5 opener against Miami arrives, Edsall's first spring left little doubt about his off-field guidelines.

"If we don't teach them that, then were not doing what were supposed to," Edsall said. "If we do those things, the results out on the field, thatll happen. Im confident thats going to happen. If you don't lay the foundation right from the get go, its not going to happen."

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