- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen didn’t need another running back at the time, but he knew signing Josh Allen one day would prove insightful. That day could be tomorrow.

Allen will start against Northern Illinois tomorrow while Bruce Perry recovers from a high ankle sprain. Losing Perry, the 2001 ACC offensive player of the year, on the second day of camp hasn’t slowed the 15th-ranked Terrapins. Allen’s 407 yards and eight touchdowns last season showed he’s more than a backup.

“Josh is probably just as good as Bruce, so we won’t lose a beat in the running game,” receiver Latrez Harrison said. “He’s a [Terps career rushing leader] Lamont Jordan waiting to happen. Josh could have a 1,000 yard season this year.”

Friedgen spotted Allen before his senior year in high school. The Eleanor Roosevelt High School star’s maturity, good grades and physical style made Friedgen rescind his previous order that the Terps would take no more running backs for fear “we would be saying we’re stupid for not taking him.”

“If Josh steps up like he did last year, we have another quality running back,” Friedgen said. “You need more than one running back. Even if Bruce was healthy, he’d go two, three series, and then we’d get Josh in and then [Sam] Maldonado. You want to keep a fresh guy.”

Said Allen: “I have confidence in myself, and it makes me feel good to know [Friedgen] has confidence in me, too.”

Fashion statement

Latrez Harrison sported a white wrist band with “respect” inscribed on it. Harrison said players still feel disrespected by pollsters and some fans despite the Terps being ranked as high as 13th in the USA Today/ESPN poll.

“People don’t think Maryland is still for real,” he said. “They want to say the first year was a fluke and last year we didn’t play anybody. After this year, if we win at the end, what are people going to say now? People want to play Maryland? Tell them to get in line.”

Friedgen has dismissed all of the polls, and that includes the No.15 ranking by the Associated Press. Playboy magazine left the Terps out of its top 20.

“It makes good water cooler conversation,” he said. “I don’t know why they do them. It doesn’t mean anything. I don’t know anybody that won a national championship at the beginning of the year.”

Different foes

After 28 practices since Aug.4, the Terps are looking forward to facing someone other than a teammate.

“We’re so tired of hitting each other, it’s going to be like a big party,” receiver Rich Parson said.

Cornerback Curome Cox said he’s ready to clock someone after holding back during workouts.

“You have some anger built up inside from two a days,” Cox said. “You’re a little frustrated.”

The sleeper

Asked for an emerging player that would prove surprising this season, Friedgen quickly named receiver JoJo Walker. The sophomore caught only four passes last year but could return kicks against Northern Illinois and play regularly in three-receiver sets.

“He has some juice,” Friedgen said. “He’s not very big, but he’s pretty tough. I think he’ll have a good season for somebody we haven’t seen before a lot.”

Parson and Walker will share returning duties because Steve Suter will miss the opener with a strained hamstring. Walker scored twice on returns as a high school senior, while Parson has 20 kick and six punt returns in two seasons. Parson said avoiding turnovers is more important than return yardage.

“Catching the ball is the big thing because there’s no halo rule [this season],” he said, “and after that get what you can.”

Extra points

Guard Lamar Bryant, defensive tackle Justin Duffie, safety Marcus Winbush, running back Mario Merrills, Perry and Suter are out. Guard Ed Tyler is doubtful. Perry and Suter could return against Florida State on Sept.6. … Strong safety Dennard Wilson practiced after suffering a minor hamstring strain Monday. … Tight end Jeff Dugan, safety Madieu Williams and linebacker Leroy Ambush are game captains.

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