Terps' Gaither to Enter Supplemental Draft

Jared Gaither
At 6 feet 9 and 350 pounds, Jared Gaither, center, emerged as perhaps the Terps' most talented lineman despite his troubles. (Robert A. Reeder - The Post)
Friday, June 29, 2007

Maryland tackle Jared Gaither will enter the NFL supplemental draft, leaving the Terrapins after two tumultuous seasons. Gaither made the decision to enter the July 12 draft less than a week after he was ruled academically ineligible for the upcoming season.

"It's a decision he's put a lot of thought into," Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen said in a statement. "He's expressed desire to get his degree, but I think the opportunity to make a living and the chance to be successful at the next level was a deciding factor."

At 6 feet 9 and 350 pounds, Gaither emerged as perhaps the Terrapins' most talented lineman though he had been derailed by a preseason suspension, injuries and academic troubles in his second season in College Park.

Gaither, from White Plains, played just one season of organized football at Eleanor Roosevelt High School. He moved on to Hargrove Military Academy for one year before he joined the Terrapins in 2005.

Gaither started eight games as a freshman in place of injured left tackle Stephon Heyer. He showed his athleticism and potential that season, not allowing a sack. When Heyer returned last season, Gaither moved to right tackle, where he started nine games.

Gaither played in 23 of 24 games in his career at Maryland, including 17 starts.

But he was suspended for a portion of fall camp last season for an undisclosed violation of team rules and his performance was limited near the end of the regular season as he battled nagging injuries. He was excused from spring practice this year to focus on academics.

"This was a decision I came to after sitting down with my family and reviewing my academic situation," Gaither said in a statement.

Gaither could have attempted to regain eligibility for the 2008 season by staying in school. He said he is interested in returning to complete work on a degree. A school spokesman said that Gaither is in the process of selecting an agent.

Gaither became the second starting offensive lineman to leave Maryland early. Guard Donnie Woods announced last December his decision to forgo his senior season to join the military.

-- Marc Carig

© 2007 The Washington Post Company