Spring football usually offers a preview of position battles that will renew in August. And even if not everyone is around, someone who’s there in the spring will almost certainly play when the fall arrives.
Unless it’s a kicking battle and a freshman is on his way.
Such is the case at Maryland, where Nick Ferrara will join the team in August. And for now, he’s a variable that leaves everything else in flux.
“I’m hoping he can at least be a kickoff guy,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “I thought [David] May was kicking the ball better [Friday], but we can’t bring all the kickers back, either.”
So instead of competing for a job this spring, May, Mike Barbour and Nick Wallace are competing for the chance to compete for a job in the fall.
Here’s why: Friedgen has only a limited number of roster spots to use during August camp. And he really isn’t interested in stretching the number of kickers he has around.
Chances are, two punters will be among the 105 Maryland brings to camp. Plus a long snapper or two. It isn’t long before those choices start cutting into depth elsewhere.
And already, Friedgen doesn’t exactly sound thrilled with the short-term prospects of the one guy locked into a spot.
“I don’t really like bringing in freshman kickers, even though we did it with [punter Travis] Baltz,” Friedgen said.
But Baltz, as Friedgen astutely pointed out, arrived a semester early in 2007. Still, Ferrara will be one of the guys in camp.
That leaves May, who is a kickoff specialist, and Barbour and Wallace. Barbour is 4-for-7 in two spring scrimmages (2-for-2 in attempts of less than 40 yards), while Wallace is 5-for-8 (including 3-for-4 inside 40).
And it remains completely up in the air which of those guys actually receives an invitation to camp.
“It depends if one of these guys impresses me on kickoffs,” Friedgen said. “If not, I’m going to rely on Ferrara to be the kickoff guy. … I’m probably only going to bring one placekicker back and then Ferrara.”
And at that point, the actual battle for a job —- rather than merely a chance at an interview —- will begin.
—- Patrick Stevens