- The Washington Times - Friday, August 30, 2002

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Todd Wike has started 32 college games at left guard for Maryland. The 6-foot-3, 303-pound senior was named All-ACC last season while paving the Terrapins' path toward the Orange Bowl. He has been tabbed as a preseason All-American in several publications.
So how will he begin the new season?
At center.
And although the offensive line returns four starters, the unit will have a decidedly different look when the 21st-ranked Terps open the season against Notre Dame in tomorrow night's final Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium.
With Wike starting at center, C.J. Brooks moves from left tackle to left guard and 6-6, 308-pound junior Eric Dumas makes his first career start at left tackle. Sophomore Kyle Schmitt, who came into the preseason as the starting center, could still see some time there, allowing Wike to play some at guard. Junior Lamar Bryant will start at right guard and senior Matt Crawford at right tackle. Freshman tackle Stephon Heyer also should see action.
"I'm concerned because Todd is really making a sacrifice for our team," coach Ralph Friedgen said at the Meadowlands yesterday. "But we have to get our five best linemen on the field."
It is still unclear who will be on the receiving end of Wike's snaps. Friedgen again declined to name a starting quarterback, although junior Scott McBrien is the favorite because of his experience of playing in big games at West Virginia and his impressive preseason. The coach did not rule out playing both the left-handed McBrien, who is considered the better passer, and sophomore Chris Kelley, who has the edge in running.
"Our game plan will include thoughts of both quarterbacks," said Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham, who will make his debut with the Fighting Irish. "You have to, especially at this time, because they're both different in terms of their delivery of the ball."
Sophomore Jason Crawford is expected to start at tailback and split time with freshman Mario Merrills, and the inexperienced backfield will rely heavily on Wike and Co. up front.
Wike, a fifth-year senior who already has a degree in philosophy, called former Terps center Melvin Fowler on Wednesday night. Fowler, an All-ACC choice last season and now a member of the Cleveland Browns, gave him tips of the nuances of the position.
At first, Wike wasn't thrilled about the move and still isn't keen on having a nose tackle bearing down on him while he concentrates on the snap. But he took the switch in stride and feels the position is beginning to feel natural.
"It just comes with more reps," said Wike, who will have a sizable contingent of fans at the game from his hometown of Lebanon, Pa. "I really started to get used to it this week. The last couple of days, I really started to like it more than playing guard."
Wike, who missed the Orange Bowl after sustaining a bruised right foot in practice, began working at center last spring to give the team an extra center. It proved essential when second-team center Jason Holman left school due to academics, leaving Wike No.2 on the depth chart at center as well as the starter at guard.
"It adds to his value," Friedgen said of Wike's versatility.
Notes E.J. Henderson practiced yesterday morning and said he felt fine. The All-American linebacker was held out of practice for the first time Tuesday with soreness in his surgically repaired back. Return man Steve Suter made the trip, but Friedgen doesn't expect him to play due to a pulled quadriceps muscle.
Rich Parson did not get hurt when he took a spill on the artificial turf Tuesday, and likely will return punts. True freshman Jo Jo Walker will be the main kickoff returner if Suter is unable to play.


LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide