- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Vernon Davis has the speed of a receiver, the size of an H-back and a reputation as a game breaker.

The Maryland Terrapins have tinkered with the freshman’s position to try and find his best role. The coaches are certain he will be a significant addition to the team.

“We have Vernon playing H-back, and the H-back can end up at the wideout, H-back or slot [receiver],” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “Vernon can play inside and outside to give us tremendous flexibility. Why not move him there and start [him] learning this stuff, because we can use all of his skills. Is he going to know all of that now? No, but we can line up with two tight ends and two wideouts, and Vernon can be a third wideout.”

Davis might be Maryland’s most exciting pass-catching prospect since Jermaine Lewis in 1995. Think Shannon Sharpe at 19. Friedgen sometimes talks of Davis leaving for the NFL early. After all, he already has the pro body at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. Davis needs to learn complex schemes that have left him shaking his head in wonder during some practices.

“You have a million things on your mind, but it’s not that hard. You just have to work on it,” Davis said. “There were some adjustments I had to make in terms of contact. People say it’s harder and more aggressive [in college], but it’s something every freshman has to go through.

“I feel excited about playing right now. I’m ready. I know I’m ready. The thing that’s going to affect me is getting it down on time. I’ve learned a lot. I’m getting it. There’s just things I need to work on like where to block on running plays.”

The Terps have quickly discovered that Davis’ reputation as one of the nation’s leading tight end prospects is well deserved as Maryland readies for its opener at Northern Illinois on Aug.28. The Dunbar High School graduate averaged 24.3 yards last season using 4.4-second speed over 40 yards and a 39-inch vertical jump.

It may take a year for him to make the leap to becoming an impact college player, but Davis already has the confidence. Like Sharpe, he doesn’t believe anyone can stop him regardless of where he plays.

“It doesn’t matter where they put me,” he said. “H-back will help the team more. I can stretch the field. If they put a linebacker on me, I’ll kill him. In practice, they try to match linebackers on me, and I seem to be successful.”

Said quarterback Scott McBrien: “He’s going to make the play. You can throw it anywhere on the field, and he’ll make the catch.”

McBrien improving

Quarterback Scott McBrien should practice today after receiving a cortisone shot in his back Tuesday and missing yesterday’s workout.

Friedgen said backup Orlando Evans struggled while working with the regulars Tuesday but improved yesterday. Evans was among the standouts in Sunday’s scrimmage, throwing two touchdown passes and rushing for a score against the second-team defense.

“When you’re the guy, it’s a little different,” Friedgen said. “I’m hoping he’ll work his way into that and feel more comfortable and play like he was. He has played better than I thought he could play.”

Said Evans: “I was probably a little too excited. I was trying to force things.”

Extra points

Running back Bruce Perry jogged for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain Aug. 5. He’s still expected to miss the opener but could return sooner than first thought. … Offensive tackle Eric Dumas (knee) and linebacker Andrew Henley (hamstring) were rested. Receivers JoJo Hunter and Rich Parson left practice with a virus. … Freshmen defensive tackles Robert Armstrong and Conrad Bolston and linebacker Tim Cesa are expected to play this season, along with Vernon Davis. Linebacker Wesley Jefferson, running back Lance Ball, offensive tackle Brock Choate, defensive end Pat Powell and linebacker Omarr Savage are possible redshirts.

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