Maryland football forced to undergo a youth movement
Friday, October 30, 2009
When running back Caleb Porzel and safety Eric Franklin arrived for Maryland's preseason training camp, neither freshman expected to play this season because of an abundance of depth at both positions. But the two 18-year-olds are among 10 freshmen who have already seen action for the beleaguered Terrapins, who are off to their worst start in nine seasons under Coach Ralph Friedgen.
"Here I am as somewhat the starter," Porzel said.
A youth movement is well underway in College Park. With the Terrapins one loss away from being eliminated from bowl contention, Friedgen is contemplating giving more playing time to underclassmen in an attempt to develop them for the future.
"This is tough times right now," Friedgen said. "We have a young team. We would like to look at kids who can help us win and who we think have a future. If it's close or even [between two players], you've got to play the younger guy."
Friedgen has made it clear that he still wants to win games this season. Some of his players came to him the other day, relaying the news that some of their teammates had been saying they have nothing left to play for this season. Friedgen told the team that was not true, and that the Terrapins (2-6, 1-3) could earn the ACC Atlantic Division title by winning their final four games.
But even Friedgen acknowledges that the scenario is improbable and that he has to begin making plans for the future. That starts with getting a better feel for exactly what the plethora of young Maryland players can do in game situations.
When asked his thoughts on practice, one Maryland assistant recently told Friedgen, "We probably need to spend some time with the young guys."
Friedgen answered: "These are the young guys. There are not too many left that have not played."
Friedgen had wanted to redshirt more freshmen this season, but injuries forced him to play more first-year players than he ever has at Maryland. Franklin played for the first time in a 17-13 loss to Duke on Saturday because Maryland needed another defensive back after safety Antwine Perez was injured on an attempted tackle.
Friedgen and defensive coordinator Don Brown were impressed with Franklin, who collected the first sack of his career. Franklin said he had no qualms about playing for the first time this late in the season and believes it will enable him to adjust to game speed quicker.
"We're all getting game experience that most people as freshmen don't get," Franklin said. "As we get older, it will help out a lot."
As for Porzel, coaches have raved about him since the start of training camp. The 5-foot-7, 180-pound running back has run the 40-yard dash in 4.21 seconds. But he was not expected to play in a game this season because of a deep stable of running backs that included junior Da'Rel Scott, a first-team all-ACC performer last season.