Area football teams had a less-than-spectacular recruiting year in 1977, but all expect to get some help from their new players this fall.
How much help they are expecting differs, however, Maryland, coming off an 11-1 season, will look upon any contribution made by new players as a bonus. Navy, 4-7 in 1976, and Howard, 5-5-1, will be seeking immediate aid.
Maryland has signed 28 players, Howard 22. Navy does not have a letter-of-intent, so coach George Welsh has no way of knowing until September who will be around. But 29 players have told Welsh they plan to be in Annapolis this summer as plebes.
Jerry Claiborne of Maryland needed help on the offensive line and signed 23 players, Howard 22 those positions. The most prominent was Joe DeMattio, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound all-state selection from Westport, Conn. Claiborne admits, though, that he does not expect much from this group in 1977.
"It's very rare that you get help from a freshman on the offensive line," he said. "You really can't count on them up front. Our line will not be as strong as it was last year. You just can't replace three guys who get drafted by the pros (Ed Fulton, Tom Schick, Dave Conrad) that easily."
Claiborne also recruited two quarterbacks - Mike Tice of Central Islip, N.Y., and Bob Milkovich, all-state performer from Rockville - mindful of the fact that both Mark Manges and Larry Dick will be seniors.
Defensively, the Terps lost four starters, but have experienced players returning at all those positions. Replacing tackles Joe Campbell (first-round draft choice of New Orleans) and Ralph Fisher will be virtually impossible, however.
The freshmen most likely to play are two line-Dailey, backers, Darnell, 6-3, 210 from Baltimore, and Dewey Raymond, 6-2, 215 from Norfolk, Conn.
Howard coach Doug Porter also felt his recruits were better than average. Looking to strengthen his defense, he signed several players who should help right away.
"We'll probably start the season with the players that finished up spring practice as starters," he said, "but we expect several people to play a lot as backups."
One man who definitely will start is James Graham, a 6-3, 215-pound junior college defensive end. William Lee, another junior college transfer who is 6-2, 215, alos will challenge for a starting spot up front with Paul Aiken, a 6-3, 240-pound defensive end from Hempstead, N.Y.
Offensively, Raymond Gray, 6-4, 195-pound quarterback from New Orleans, who threw for more than 1,700 yards last season as a high school senior, will see some playing time.
Welsh has nine defensive starters back at Navy but with one of the graduates being All-America defensive guard Jeff Sapp, he also went looking for help up front.
Most likely to break into the lineup quickly are Marty Paulitis, 6-3, 215-pound defensive end-line-backer from Lombard, Ill., and Richard Welch, a 6-3, 240-pound offensive guard-tackle who could be switched to defense if needed.
Welch is fairly well set in both the offensive and defensive backfields, but Stephen Gallahan, a fleet 6-1, 175-pound receiver-running back from Groveton, Tex., will get to play.