Saturday, November 10, 2001

They arrived on the Maryland campus in August 1998 and immediately dubbed themselves the “New Crew.” They were the ones who would change things, they said. Before the senior class of 2002 was through, the long-mediocre Terrapins football team would experience success.
But going into their senior season, it was uncertain whether that promise would be fulfilled. The Terps had many of the same players from the 2000 team that went 5-6, and coach Ron Vanderlinden was fired. But it looks like the addition of Ralph Friedgen as coach and a little confidence were all this group needed.
“We’ve always had the people; we just got that extra thing this year that helped turn the program around,” senior safety Randall Jones said.
Nineteen Maryland seniors will take the field tonight for the No. 13 Terps (8-1, 5-1 ACC) against Clemson (5-3, 3-3) in a nationally televised game. Senior Day always brings emotions, but with the ACC title and a top bowl berth still on the line, and a Byrd Stadium crowd of more than 50,000, tonight’s ceremony is sure to evoke previously untapped emotions.
“There is going to be a lot of tears shed in pregame, I think,” said senior tailback Marc Riley, who has scored eight touchdowns this season. “I’m probably going to have to shed a tear or something like that, but hopefully I don’t ‘cause I have to stay focused on the game.”
Players said one of the things they’ll enjoy most is the opportunity to play before a sellout crowd, something none of them has experienced at Maryland. (The last sellout came in 1995; the last 50,000-plus crowd in 1985.)
“We all really thought [a sellout would] happen earlier this season,” senior quarterback Shaun Hill said, “but for us seniors this is our last home game, and there couldn’t be a better time for it.”
Riley has a point, though: The Terps can’t get too sentimental because Clemson has beaten Maryland by at least 10 points in the last eight meetings, and quarterback Woodrow Dantzler has shredded the Terps’ defense twice. But if Maryland’s turnaround season has proved anything, it’s that nothing is certain.
The last two years, the Terps played on Senior Day needing to win their final home game to become bowl eligible. They lost both times, including last season’s defeat by Friedgen’s last Georgia Tech team. Now not only have the Terps qualified, they can determine which bowl they are going to. A victory also would make the Terps 7-0 at home and attain one of the goals players set at the start of the season.
“I’m going to be up for this game for every reason you can think of,” senior defensive lineman Charles Hill said.
Throughout the season, the Terps have ended several practices with a chant in which they count in unison the number of wins they have at that time and, said Friedgen, “some of them are flabbergasted that they have eight wins.”
The coach added, “I think this is a memorable bunch. I think they need to go down in the history of Maryland as a bunch of seniors who have brought this program back from obscurity. … I have a lot of love for them.”

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