- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 2, 2003

At first, Ricardo Dickerson just wanted to get on the field. Now he hardly gets off it. Maryland’s first two-way player in 17 years doubles as a fullback and defensive end.

Coach Ralph Friedgen called Dickerson a “poor man’s Deion Sanders” as the Terrapins got ready for Clemson tomorrow. Teammates joked that he should wear a split red/white jersey in practice. Offensive linemen wondered whether Dickerson cheats on defense because he knows the snap count. Defensive teammates chant his name when he returns to their side.

“Three weeks ago, I was on the scout team, so I’m just happy to play,” Dickerson said.

Against Eastern Michigan last week, Dickerson had 26 snaps at fullback and 19 as a defensive end. Special teams duties may be added, too. He often spends first and second downs on offense and then third-and-long situations as a pass-rushing end. In practice, that sometimes means switching sides in the same series.

“His biggest problem is on Friday nights; when we break up into units, he doesn’t know which meetings to go to,” Friedgen said. “It’s just an example of us trying to take the talents of our players and fit them in the right situation.”

Dickerson didn’t play either position last year. The sophomore started once at outside linebacker, the position he played at Northwestern High School, a few blocks south of the Maryland campus. He knocked Florida State quarterback Chris Rix temporarily out of a game.

When the Terps needed another fullback, Dickerson filled in during spring practice. Injuries to other defensive ends made him the Terps’ first two-way man since cornerback Keeta Covington played some receiver in 1986.

“Defense is my first love, but realistically, with my body type, I’m a fullback at this level,” Dickerson said. “I love defense, but I want to be a starter on offense. I’m getting a lot more confidence at fullback. I’m trying to keep the same type of aggressiveness.”

Knowing the snap count does provide an edge defensively in practice, one he tries not to exploit.

“It’s hard not to cheat because when we go in dime [coverage], I know the offense goes on a quick count, so I could jump them and beat the tackles,” Dickerson said. “But I’m trying to get them better so I won’t cheat.”

Guard C.J. Brooks remains certain Dickerson doesn’t use his advantage in practice. Then again, maybe that knowledge can be used against him.

“I know he knows what’s going on our side, so that gives him an edge,” Brooks said, “but it makes us better because he knows what we’re doing.”

Strengths collide

Maryland leads the ACC in rushing offense with 185.2 yards a game, but Clemson is known for stacking nine-man fronts. Friedgen said he won’t change the Terps’ offense to take advantage of man coverage downfield.

“We tried to play more of a wide-open attack [earlier this season], and it just wasn’t us,” Friedgen said. “When we’re running the ball well, everything falls in. The play action and quick game gets in, and [quarterback] Scott [McBrien] gets into a rhythm, and we’re playing better.”

Extra points

Friedgen will be among nine coaches profiled in the forthcoming book “Every Week a Season: A Journey Inside Big-Time College Football,” which will be released next year by Random House. Author Brian Curtis is spending this week with the Terps. …

Returner Steve Suter (knee), guard Lamar Bryant (shoulder), running back Bruce Perry (high ankle sprain) and receiver Jafar Williams (hand) are expected to play against Clemson. … Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson missed practice to attend his grandfather’s funeral. … The Terps have been playing Clemson’s theme song during practice, much to the players’ discontent. … Friedgen’s free breakfast with fans is 7 a.m. today at the university’s Inn and Conference Center.

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