Tuesday, November 6, 2001

Calvin McCall made a name for himself running the option for the Maryland football team. But it was the choice the quarterback made last April that left observers baffled like a flat-footed defense.
McCall pitched away his football career, leaving a role as the primary starter at quarterback the last two seasons to pursue basketball full time. The 6-foot-3 guard originally walked onto Gary Williams’ team as a freshman, and would join that group after football season. In basketball he played little, with his primary role to challenge starters in practice.
Considering he played the most important position on the football field and was a seldom-used reserve in basketball, it was a stunning development when McCall walked in new football coach Ralph Friedgen’s office and said his gridiron days were done.
“My heart wasn’t in it,” said McCall, who started 17 games before leaving the team after his sophomore season. “It wasn’t fun anymore. I didn’t want to do football anymore. I was kind of tired of it. My mind wasn’t into it. And playing football, playing quarterback when your mind’s not into it, it’s dangerous.”
McCall is spending his first full season with the basketball team. The junior will compete for minutes from the end of bench again this season, and will spend most of his time watching stars such as Juan Dixon and Lonny Baxter gleam in the spotlight.
McCall has watched this year as his former teammates continue the best campaign by a Maryland team since 1985. McCall still has close friends on the football team, and said he is thrilled for their success. But even though Friedgen has raised the Terps to national prominence, McCall said he’s content as a spectator at Byrd Stadium.
“I haven’t had any second thoughts yet,” said McCall, who averaged 1.7 points during mop-up duty in 11 basketball games last season.
McCall told some basketball teammates last season that he was going to switch exclusively to the hardwood, but they quickly dismissed it as a joke. Even Williams was blindsided by the sudden switch.
“I was shocked when he said he wasn’t going to play football,” said Williams, who rewarded McCall with a basketball scholarship because of his value as a practice player with an exemplary attitude. “It’s not like he didn’t play last year. If you don’t like a certain sport even though you are starting you are going to react a certain way. He likes basketball. He likes our guys.”
McCall started eight football games last season, but it was clear his passion was waning not to mention the friction between him and then-coach Ron Vanderlinden’s staff. After battling current Maryland quarterback Shaun Hill, a junior-college transfer, through the preseason, McCall never found a rhythm and seemed disinterested at times, doing things such as running out of bounds rather than being aggressive and initiating contact.
The quarterback was heavily scrutinized as the Terps underachieved and finished the season with a disappointing 5-6 record, failing to reach their goals of a winning season and a bowl berth. By then, McCall had lost his starting job to Hill.
“I think it was me losing the love for it and everything else I had to put up with,” said McCall, who flew to Hawaii the day after football season ended to be with the basketball team at the Maui Invitational. “Even toward the end of my freshman season I was starting to lose it.”
McCall had burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman, and played so well that he was runner-up for ACC Rookie of the Year, as an effective running complement to tailback LaMont Jordan in the option game. The quarterback from Miami showed why he was such a sought-after athlete, and even top-notch programs like Florida State wanted him to play defensive back.
McCall had also drawn interest in basketball, and said he received a scholarship offer from Kansas.
But it wasn’t until last basketball season that McCall decided to exclusively concentrate on hoops.
“I was having fun out there,” said McCall, who made the final decision during the NCAA tournament. “I had the opportunity to do what I wanted to do and not what other people wanted me to do. When I made the decision, it was a big relief.”

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide