- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Maryland senior quarterback Orlando Evans could return next year if the NCAA approves a medical redshirt request. The move would solve the Terrapins’ need for an experienced successor to senior Scott McBrien.

Coach Ralph Friedgen said yesterday the team believes Evans deserves a sixth year of eligibility because he played just one game in 2001 before sustaining a season-ending knee injury and missed the 1999 season while at Oregon because of a back injury. Maryland contends Evans merits exemptions in both years for playing less than 20 percent of the games and none after midseason.

The biggest hurdle of gaining a sixth season is that athletes must play their four seasons within five years. However, Maryland will argue that injuries forced the extension. The request should be filed soon, though an NCAA ruling might not come before season’s end.

Friedgen called retaining Evans an “outside possibility.” Evans emerged as the No.2 quarterback over redshirt freshmen Joel Statham and Sam Hollenbach and freshman Ryan Mitch. The latter trio still could compete with Evans next year if he returns, along with a possible freshman recruit, but retaining Evans would protect Maryland from having to use an inexperienced passer. Friedgen said the 2004 starter would be determined in spring practice.

“It would strengthen [quarterback], definitely,” Friedgen said. “I see Orlando continuing to get better. It would give those other kids a little more time.”

Evans said he would welcome another year but isn’t expecting to return. He’d rather view this as his exit and be pleasantly surprised if he is permitted another season.

“I’m not getting my hopes up,” he said. “It’s not 100 percent sure. … You never know — I might end up playing this year [regularly].”

Evans transferred from Oregon to Solano Community College in Suisun City, Calif., in 2000, then led the City College of San Francisco to the 2001 national JUCO championship. After playing one game last year for the Terps, Evans is 12 of 19 for 145 yards and one touchdown in three games this season.

The popular Evans secured the No.2 role during summer camp after a lackluster spring. Friedgen admitted hoping that one of the younger quarterbacks would become the backup this season, but he believed Evans deserved the job.

Evans’ low-key humor is popular in the huddle. “Orlando’s a clown,” guard Lamar Bryant said. “He comes to the huddle like, ‘Aw, I forgot the play,’ then just starts barking out the play. He goes out there and tries to have fun.”

Notes — Touted freshman linebacker Wesley Jefferson will be redshirted. Friedgen said Jefferson needs to gain strength and could compete as an outside linebacker next year. …

Defensive end Scott Smith (back) and fullback Bernie Fiddler are doubtful against Eastern Michigan on Saturday night in Ypsilanti, Mich. Receiver Jafar Williams (hand) is probable. … Smith will sing the national anthem before season’s end. Friedgen said the senior will be given the chance in coming weeks during a home game. Smith often relaxes teammates by dancing and singing in the huddle. “Fifty thousand would be the biggest crowd I’d ever sing for,” he said.

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