- The Washington Times - Friday, August 18, 2000

The Maryland football team doesn't play its first game for three weeks, but it has already suffered a major loss. LaMont Jordan, the Terps' prospective Heisman Trophy candidate, is academically ineligible and will not participate in practice, which begins Friday morning, until his school situation is resolved.

The senior tailback's final status will be determined within the next few weeks, once summer school is finished. The summer session officially ends Aug. 25, and the school will render a decision around that time.

"I am completing summer school," said Jordan, who missed spring practices voluntarily to concentrate on academics. "I look forward to my final season here at Maryland. I first have to take care of things in the classroom before I can step out onto the field."

Maryland made the announcement yesterday as part of its annual Media Day, and the overwhelming topic at Byrd Stadium was Jordan, who addressed the media separately inside the team house.

"I look for a really big year from LaMont Jordan," said coach Ron Vanderlinden, who is optimistic about his star's return. Jordan also missed the start of practice last season because of academic difficulties.

Jordan's latest absence comes as Vanderlinden begins his fourth season in College Park with a team expected to post the program's first winning season since 1995 and play in a bowl game for the first time in 11 seasons.

Jordan is a consensus preseason first-team All-American selection and would come into the season as the leading active rusher in college

football with 3,227 yards. His 1,632 last season are the most ever gained by a Terps running back in a season, and he closed it a 306-yard spree in Maryland's final game against Virginia. He chose to stay at the university for his senior season rather than leave for the NFL.

The 5-foot-11, 220-pound Jordan has gone from being hyped for the Heisman by his school and being the only player on both the front and back cover of Maryland's 2000 preseason prospectus to not even being pictured on the front or back of the new media guide.

The communications major wore his No. 15 jersey to the news conference, and his teammates hope he will be similarly attired when they host Temple in the season opener Sept. 9.

"[Jordan's absence] does hurt," said senior fullback Matt Kalipinski, who shares backfield assignments with him. "You hate to talk about it. We just kind of block it out, and go with what we have. It's like an injury."

Jordan has the highest profile of three Terps who will not start fall practice because of academics. Reserve offensive lineman Chris Snader and backup tight end Eric James, both juniors, are the others.

"They are hurting the team," said junior linebacker Aaron Thompson, an All-ACC candidate. "But they are also hurting themselves the most by not being out there… . It was just the hand the team was dealt."

Jordan's problems overshadowed what should have been an upbeat start to practice Vanderlinden said this team is the deepest he has had and "is the best-conditioned Maryland team I think in our history." The coach cited some 50 players who stayed in College Park this summer to work on strength and conditioning.

The team added junior college quarterback Shaun Hill, which should only elevate the level of play, with Calvin McCall and Latrez Harrison returning.

"It's incomparable where we are this year at the most critical of all offensive position to where we were a year ago or two years ago" said Vanderlinden, who started freshman quarterbacks the past two seasons.

But the big question remains Jordan. Untested sophomore Bruce Perry will get much of the work as featured runner while Jordan is out.

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