Jim Hagan, who will be remembered by few when he leaves the University of Maryland, will remember what he did for the Terps' football team.
"I was fodder," said Hagan. "They threw me to the dogs."
Hagan, one of three fifth-year men who have not earned letters, was describing the dreaded duties of the scout squad, which is composed of marginal players charged with the duty of running an opponent's plays so that the starters will know what to look for when Saturday's game rolls around.
The scout squad also knows what to look for on Saturday: The bench. If it's a home game.
It it's a road game, the scout players who don't make the 50-plus travel squad look for their radios.
Don Rhodes, who has spent the past four years trying to break into the offensive line, recalls such a September night in 1975 when Maryland played at Tennessee. While the Terps warmed up before 74.161 noisy fans in Knoxville, Rhodes and another player sat in a dorm room back in College Park, interrupting the morgue-like silence that sweeps the athletes' wing whenever the football team is on the road.
Rhodes remained in his room all night, held hostage by the radio broadcast of the game and also by the humiliation of being one of the players left behind.
"You really get down if you're not on the traveling team," said Rhodes, who begins his final year of eligibility this fall. "I remember listening to that Tennessee game on the radio with Mickey Pelanda. We are embarrassed to go anywhere. We were just waiting for the team to get back.
"At a time like that, you talk about why you're not there. You just keep asking, 'Why?' and no one can answer.
"You never want to say you're not good enough."
Hagan, Rhodes and Pelanda are the only seniors on Maryland's team entering their fifth year who have not played enough to earn a letter. They all red-shirted a year, which means they were ineligible to play in games but had to practice like everyone else. They are all on scholarships.
Rhodes and pelanda finally made the travel squad. But Hagan, a 23-year-old split end, has made only two strips with the team - to postseason bowl games.
"While all the guys are gone, I'm hanging out with the younger guys and they're all talking about the same things I was talking about back then," said Hagan, who is now married and a father. "It's discouraging."
Rhodes, who used to be recognized on every street of Hermine, Pa., while starring on the town's high school team, has seen his name and face vanish from print. This was his first interview at Maryland.
pelanda, a defensive end, recalls facing his father after a game in which he did not play. His father had driven to Byrd Stadium from Canfield, Ohio. "What could I say to him?" Pelanda asked.
Hagan is one of a handful of players who were not given Atlantic Coast Conference championship rings.
Rhodes knows how it feels to watch and wait, too.
"When I'm standing on the sidelines," said Rhodes, "I'm yelling for the team. The coach looks up and down the sidelines and you wait for him to look at you and tell you to go in. But he doesn't.
"It's like killing something inside you."
It is all the more unbearable after spending hours in muggy heat, or beting frost, working on that scout squad.
"The people who do it (the scourt squad) figure it's degrading," said Rhodes, a center who may move up a few notches this year. "If you're on the scout squad, they say you're a part of the team, but I couldn't consider myself a part of the team at the time."
"With the varsity guys of the past, if you do something well, you might upset them," said Hagan. They might get mad at you and say, 'Hey, what are you doing?' On the next play, they might come out and really belt you. That's the way it works.
"It might have seemed like I had a bad attitude because I expressed myself. I didn't like to get hollered at. I told the coaches to leave me alone, and they didn't like that. It might have been a mistake. I just thought I should be there like the rest of the guys I had red-shirted with.
"I called my dad and I told him I wanted out. He told me that was fine, but that since I had an opportunity to go through school on a scholarship, he wouldn't pay for a cent of my education.
"So I stayed."
Rhodes and Pelanda also thought of quitting. Rhodes told his father he was nervous and upset; his father said he wound fund a move elsewhere.
"But it's kind of a challenge," said Rhodes, "to prove to your coaches and your teammates that you're good enough to play. That's what keeps me going."
Pelanda said he was on the verge of transfering to Kent State. "My hopes went out the window," said Pelanda. "I think it might be one of the biggest disappointments in my life. Why did I stay? I don't know. I guess because I hoped to play here."
Hagan's situation was also complicated by the financial strains of early fatherhood. The Hagans have been married a year and have a son, James, who is seven months old.
Hagan's wife, Carole, is also a Maryland student. She earns money to add to Jim's scholarship check by tutoring other players. They both like Maryland.
"I'm sorry in a way that I came here, but not really," Hagan said. We were almost national champions. And that's a thrill because this is a team sport, although individual interests sometimes occupy your mind. There are things that bothered me two years ago that I control now.
"That's what pride-swallowing is - learning to keep your mouth shut. I'm glad I didn't transfer. I've made some close friends. I met my wife here. I'm happy about that and I know when I get out, I'll be happy.
"How do you cope while you're here? I'm not sure you do."