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Ennis Is Feeling Special After ACC Honor

By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 25, 2006

During preseason camp, Maryland senior Dan Ennis was battling just to save his job.

Twice, his primary competition, Obi Egekeze, pulled ahead. Ennis said his confidence never changed, even as Coach Ralph Friedgen barked insults at the two during kicking drills as a test of performing under pressure.

Two months later, Ennis is starting to leave no doubt as to where his confidence level is.

The senior earned ACC special teams player of the week honors after hitting all four of his field goal attempts in Saturday's 26-20 victory against North Carolina State.

Ennis booted field goals from 32, 27, 40 and 18 yards against the Wolfpack and made both of his extra-point attempts.

"Kicking is a game of confidence," Ennis said.

Egekeze showed a stronger leg and higher ball flight on his kicks, but Ennis proved to be more consistent. Ennis has handled the field goal duties all season, making 11 of 15 attempts. But in a sign of how close the camp competition was, Friedgen didn't decide the winner until the Terrapins opened the season against William & Mary.

"I'm real proud of Dan," Friedgen said. "He's hung in there. He really believes in himself."

Before earning a scholarship just before the start of this season, Ennis was a walk-on who came to Maryland as the fulfillment of a childhood dream. "When he got here, he could barely kick an extra point," Friedgen said. "To see the way he's performing right now, and the confidence in which he is doing it, is one of the nice things about coaching."

Ennis took over as the Terrapins' place kicker last season after Nick Novak, who now kicks for the Redskins, graduated.

Ennis started fast, hitting his first 11 attempts before fading in the second half, finishing 17 for 25. But this season, Ennis has hit seven of his last eight attempts, including a 3 for 3 game at Georgia Tech. "It definitely gives you confidence to take into the rest of the season," said Ennis, who booted a career-high 46-yarder against the Yellow Jackets. "As a kicker, you assume that every game could come down to you."

Mum on Merriman

Friedgen declined to comment on former Terrapins all-American and current San Diego Chargers defensive end-linebacker Shawne Merriman, who is appealing a four-game suspension from the NFL for a violation of the league's steroid policy.

"I haven't talked to Shawne in about a year," Friedgen said. "He's been in San Diego, and we really haven't had a lot of touch with him."

Terps and TV Making Nice

Live television didn't catch Maryland's comeback victory against Virginia. But since that snub, the Terrapins are going to be on television at least three straight times.

Last week's game against North Carolina State was broadcast regionally by Lincoln Financial Sports, and this week's game against Florida State, which is slated for a 7 p.m. kickoff, will be televised by ESPN 2. . . .

Athletic officials announced that next Saturday's game at Clemson will kick off at noon on ESPN2.

Costa Was Injured

Friedgen said linebacker Rick Costa suffered a temporary partial dislocation of his shoulder against the Wolfpack. Costa left the game but returned. Costa's emergence Saturday helped the Terrapins to their best pass rushing effort of the season. Costa helped the defense record four sacks of North Carolina State quarterback Daniel Evans. . . .

Friedgen said the status of suspended reserve defensive end Barrod Heggs for Saturday's game is still uncertain, though he did not rule out the possibility of Heggs playing against Florida State.

Friedgen suspended Heggs the week before the Virginia game for an undisclosed violation of team rules. Heggs hasn't played since.

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