- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 26, 2008

At its most basic, the purpose of spring football is for players to improve.

The other significant priority is just as practical: Make sure everyone is around for the fall.

No position battle at Maryland highlights the latter quite like tailback, where inexperienced holdovers Morgan Green and Da’Rel Scott hope to play prominent roles both in this afternoon’s spring game at Byrd Stadium and for the Terrapins when the season arrives in August.

If, that is, the sophomores can stay on the field.

“Like every day, I’m glad I get out of practice without injuries,” said Green, who according to coach Ralph Friedgen has nosed ahead of Scott in recent weeks.

Green is all-too-familiar with leaving the spring in pain. A year ago, he enjoyed a strong April and appeared poised to challenge for significant playing time once the fall arrived.

But late in the spring game, he suffered a broken clavicle and the ensuing surgery cost him much of the offseason. It was a prelude of things to come; after carrying three times for no yards in the opener against Villanova, a hamstring injury kept him out of six games and he didn’t play for the rest of the season.

“It was definitely a setback,” Green said. “When you have a great spring and the last five minutes of the game you break your collarbone, it’s like ‘Wow, I wish that never happened.’ You’ve got to rebound and bounce back.”

Green, though, isn’t the only tailback trying to stay off the burgeoning list of ailments. Scott missed much of last spring with a knee injury, and multiple ankle sprains cost him four games a season ago.

In between, he offered Maryland a powerful burst out of the backfield and as a kick returner. Despite sporadic use as a rusher, Scott scored his first career touchdown on a 57-yard catch against Boston College and later ran for a career-high 89 yards against N.C. State.

The former high school sprinter might be an even better fit in new offensive coordinator James Franklin’s scheme. Scott said he can see things much better in this offense, which emphasizes making one cut and hitting a hole rather than extensive reads.

He believes he can thrive next fall, but added an important caveat.

“The only tough thing is me staying healthy,” said Scott, who is dealing with a slightly pulled hamstring. “Other than that, I’m a pretty smart guy and I can learn the offense pretty quickly.”

In the longer view, it’s unlikely either Green or Scott dominates the backfield touches in the fall. No tailback under Friedgen has ever led Maryland in carries in each game. And while the Terps haven’t produced a 1,000-yard rusher in the last five seasons, they’ve had a pair of 500-yard runners in all but one of those years (2005).

“It’s a tough position,” Friedgen said. “You’re going to get hit. They have to be able to play with some pain, and it’s tough. It’s more of a physical maturity than anything else. To me, the smaller the back you are, the more it’s going to hurt your durability. The fact Morgan’s there would help Da’Rel, and I’m hoping we’ll get another guy coming on there, too.”

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