- The Washington Times - Monday, December 31, 2001

MIAMI The Maryland Terrapins have begun final preparations for the Orange Bowl with health questions at several positions starting with All-ACC guard Todd Wike.
"Right now, I don't think he is going to play," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said after practice yesterday morning. Wike, a 6-foot-3, 191-pound junior, suffered a contusion in his right foot after being stepped on in practice Thursday. He has been sidelined since and has been wearing a medical boot. Redshirt freshman Kyle Schmitt would start his first game if Wike can't play.
The sixth-ranked Terps hope to make a final determination today, as there are only two days left before the showdown game with No. 5 Florida (9-2). Maryland (10-1) should also know more about the status of two other all-conference selections safety Tony Jackson and cornerback Tony Okanlawon. Jackson has been practicing but has been hobbled since spraining his right ankle last week in College Park.
Okanlawon missed the last four weeks of the season with an undisclosed, non-football related medical condition. The 5-11 senior had five interceptions in the seven games he played, and was Maryland's best cover corner. As of yesterday, Friedgen was planning to start Okanlawon. A final decision should be made today.
"I talked to him the other day," said Friedgen, of the corner who hasn't been in a game since Oct. 20. "He said he wanted to play. I told him I had concerns for him. I'd like for him to finish his last game. I think he had made a tremendous impact on the team. I don't think we would be where we are without him. If at all possible, I would like to see him end his career on a positive note."
The addition of Okanlawon would give the secondary some needed flexibility particularly if Jackson is limited against one of the most explosive receiving corps in college football. Curome Cox will start at one corner, while reserve cornerback Dennard Wilson could play Jackson's safety spot. Impressive freshman Domonique Foxworth will either start or rotate in at cornerback.
The offensive line has little depth and would lose one of its stalwarts if left guard Wike is out. Schmitt (6-3, 309) has been solid in his limited role. However, Wike has battled nagging injuries all season, and has started every game despite often missing practice. Wike said after the injury that he expected to be back.
"I think he'll play," Maryland center Melvin Fowler said. "His foot has swelled up, but I think he'll be all right."
Wike has been a fixture on the line for three seasons and has started 32 consecutive games.
"Todd is that type of person," Terps offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe said. "He has had injuries all season and has always found a way to be there at game time. If there is any way possible, I'm sure Todd will be out there."
Maryland had its last full-scale practice yesterday and will finish with two lighter workouts before the Orange Bowl. The Terps will also curtail bowl festivities. Maryland players have enjoyed their fun in the sun including a beach party on Saturday but now its all football.
"The party's over," said Friedgen, who moved up the team's curfew to 11:30 p.m. last night. "Now, we have to start focusing in and getting ready to play the game."
Notes
Maryland tailback Bruce Perry is back to his old self after suffering a pulled abdominal muscle Thursday and missing Friday's practice. The ACC's offensive Player of the Year felt so good Saturday that he went parasailing.
"I wanted to go jet skiing for the first time, and Bruce comes running up to me and says, 'Yo, let's go parasailing,'" fellow tailback Marc Riley said. "I don't know what got him up the nerve to do it. We had to sign (a waiver) our lives away to go parasailing. That was kind of scary. When you are up there and looking down in the ocean and you are connected by a little rope, you realize it's a long way down. Thank God it didn't snap. … "We had a great experience 700 feet up in the air parasailing. It was a very eye-opening experience to do it once. I can always look back and say I did it once. Twice, I don't know about. But I can always say I did it once."
While Riley and Perry were getting an aerial view of the Atlantic coastline, some less adventurous teammates preferred the view from the sand.
"I didn't want to do anything that would put me at risk of getting hurt," said center Melvin Fowler, who chose not to launch his 297-pound frame. "I just wanted to walk the beach, look at all the beautiful women and enjoy the sun."… Florida is not in the Rose Bowl, but that hasn't stopped the Gators' gums from flapping. "We may not be in the national championship," wide receiver Reche Caldwell said, "but we're still the best team in college football."


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