The one guy in camp who has barely practiced during camp almost certainly wishes he had.
That’s because Bearthur Johnson got the Forrest Gump treatment: He got to run. Pretty much non-stop.
The redshirt freshman still has not passed Maryland’s conditioning test —- which for linemen is 14 100-yard dashes in 18 seconds with about 30 seconds between each run. So that’s meant a lot of running on the side while teammates practice.
Johnson came to camp at 380 pounds; he’s down to 364. (Maryland, by the way, considerately lists him at 350 pounds).
“In anything he’s ever done, he’s never quit in,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “He’ll run the 100s test, and he doesn’t do very well in it. But I’ve seen kids just stop and refuse to do it anymore. He never does that. He might finish it with a sundial, but he’s going to finish the race. I respect that about him.
The question with Johnson isn’t ability. Talk to folks on the staff, and it’s clear the guy is fairly nimble and agile for someone his size, and could have the quick feet needed to be an effective lineman.
That probably won’t happen this year. Instead, what this fall will probably help determine is whether Johnson can help down the road.
He was cheered by teammates when he helped break the huddle on a day late in camp. Friedgen says players will occasionally ask about Johnson’s status in meetings with him. Both of those developments are hints to Friedgen that Johnson is well-liked.
Now he just wants to see if the kid will work hard —- and seemed to get an answer when he finally threw Johnson into the fray last week.
“I give him credit. I wouldn’t let him practice until he passed the test —- and he still hasn’t passed the test,” Friedgen said. “But when we were low in numbers, I let him do some stuff. I’ve never seen a guy so happy to play football in my life. I thought ‘Maybe we hit on something here.’”
—- Patrick Stevens