- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 7, 2000

Maryland's football team opens spring practice tomorrow without its top two offensive performers, a fact that dampens the otherwise optimistic mood surrounding the maturing program.

Rising senior tailback LaMont Jordan (academics) and sophomore quarterback Calvin McCall (basketball) lead a group of Terps who will miss all or part of spring drills, which are scheduled to take place three times a week and conclude with the Red-White spring game April 15.

Maryland returns 15 starters and 37 lettermen from last season, when the Terps started 4-1 but finished 5-6. Maryland's opportunity for a winning record and an almost certain bowl invitation dissipated on a last-minute touchdown by Virginia. The Terps have not been to a bowl game since 1990.

Tight end Eric James, offensive guards Chris Snader and Mike George and linebacker Reggie Lewis join Jordan as academic casualties for spring ball. Snader started one game in 1999 and George 10 games in 1998.

The academic absences of five Terps from spring ball is the most during Ron Vanderlinden's tenure, the fourth-year coach acknowledged.

"It hurts the total development of a football team," Vanderlinden said during a news conference yesterday. "We have really taken responsibility for academically monitoring ourselves… . I don't expect to ever be in this situation again because we are taking full responsibility."

Jordan, of course, is the critical absence. The 5-foot-11, 219-pound Forestville native is being touted as a Heisman Trophy candidate. Last season he set school records with 1,632 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns.

Jordan apparently has returned to his academically lackadaisical ways, which he spoke about last season as being a thing of the past. Vanderlinden yesterday acknowledged disappointment in Jordan's classroom effort but played down the significance of Jordan's absence from spring drills.

"If there was one position that an individual could miss spring practice and be at the very peak of his game next fall, it would be that position," Vanderlinden said. "[Jordan's absence] really isn't a big concern."

In fact, Vanderlinden said the absence of McCall was of more concern than that of Jordan, explaining that McCall needs practice to continue starting at his hotly contested position.

McCall (6-3, 189) started the first nine games of 1999 before tearing his MCL. He threw for 1,264 yards with five touchdowns and just three interceptions.

McCall is playing for Maryland's basketball team as a walk-on, though he has played just six minutes in the Terps' past 12 games. He will return to the Terps' football team after the NCAA tournament. In the meantime, sophomore Latrez Harrison (6-3, 222) and junior college transfer Shaun Hill (6-3, 229) will compete for first-string honors.

"Calvin needs spring practice," Vanderlinden said. "But on a positive note and I choose to see the positive in Calvin's decision to play basketball ever since he was medically cleared in December, he has been cutting and working and competing with the finest athletes in the country on a daily basis. I think Calvin will bounce back quickly."

Note Junior linebacker Kevin Bishop will not participate in contact drills while he recuperates from a serious knee injury he suffered last November. But he is making "really good progress," according to Vanderlinden, and might do some noncontact drills in April.

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