Larry Dick, so disheartened last year he seldom left his dormitory room, will start at quarterback in Maryland's home opener Saturday against West Virginia in place of Mark Manges, whose foot is still swollen.
Dick is not considering this another opportunity to prove himself better than Manges and win the starting position permanently. He is not even hoping for a resumption of the Manges-Dick battle that see-sawed for three years.
After months of depression last season, when he shunned classes and social activities for the solace of his room, Dick came to grips with the fact that he is Manges' backup.
Realizing and coping with that has been his most trying task in football.
"It's inevitable that both of us will be healthy in a few weeks," said Dick. "Then shoot . . . I don't known what they're going to do."
"Whatever they do, I don't think it will affect me much. I've reached a point where I can cope with whatever they do."
Manges seriously injured his shoulder early in the 1975 season and Dick took over and guided the team to a Gator Bowl victory.
Last year, Dick was hurt in a preseason scrimmage and Manges led the Terps to an undefeated regular season.
Starting Saturday's game will not be a turning point in Dick's collegiate career. That came last winter during a discussion in coach Jerry Claiborne's office.
One topic of conversation was the three Ds he had received.
"I more or less told him I wasn't going to any classes at all," said Dick. "I had no motivation to get out of bed. Sometimes the only time I'd leave the building was to go to practice and come back. I was very depressed.
"Even when I was watching TV or reading. I'd catch myself day dreaming about the situation.
"I didn't think there was anything I could do to start and it took me six months to admit it. So I got myself ready for when I'd have to step in.
"There's not fierce competition any more, with one guy trying to show up the other, like there was the first year. I forgot about last season, got all those problems out, and looked forward to progressing as a person."
When Dick came to Maryland as a freshman, he figured his main competition would be Bob Avellini.
"I was naive," said Dick. "I had thought it would be all me."
"Then, the next year, Mark came and they were high on him right away. I was red-shirted and I knew he was my competition and it's been him and me ever since."
They shared starting duties toward the end of the 1975 season, when Manges' separated shoulder began to heal.
Dick remembers clearly the Penn State game ("I got pull after the first quarter, believe it or not") and the subsequent contest, when the starting position was returned to Manges.
"I came out of a meeting looking depressed and Mark asked me what was wrong. I told him I didn't think it was fair, and that I though I should start," said Dick. "He said, 'I don't know what to say to you.' He felt for me.
That's probably the only time we ever discussed our situation on the team. Mark and I came here with the same hopes of being the man. Being a quarterback is a unique feeling, having the team rely on you. We looked at each other and though, this is the guy who's going to ruin it.
"Considering that type of situation we've had a very good relationship. We room together on the road and we talk well. I've never lied to Mark. It's not like we're buddy-buddy. But we like each other.
"I've never resented Mark. I've envied him a few times."
Dick said his envy resulted largely from the fact that the staff seemed to prefer Manges before he even enrolled. Buth Dick understood this because of the differences in their high school experiences.
"He was more mature and more ready for this place. His adjustment was so much easier," said Dick. "He was a roll-out, sprint quarterback in high school, which is what they like here. I was definitely a drop-back quarterback. It was complete changeover for me and I still find myself adjusting.
"I'd have to say that if you look at what we do best. I'm a better passer and Mark's a better runner. But what really matters is a lot of intangibles, how well you lead the team, do you beat your own team with interceptions, not how well you can throw or run.
"This is one of my strengths. Mark has all these qualities, too.Actually I've worked hard on the things I wasn't good at. Now I don't feel there is any aspect of the game that Mark is better at than me. I think he feels that way too.
"I don't think one of us is clearly better.
Claiborne defines this as "the best quarterback situation in the country." But he admits he does not want get into a weekly who's-our-quarterback controversy, which has distracted and divided many good teams.
The other Terps, for the the most part seem to have stayed out of it. Dick admitted that "a lot of people believe in me and a lot of guys are disappointed for me. There are some guys who definitely prefer me and some who definitely prefer Mark. But it's not an issue, at all. They have their own positions to thinks about."
A veteran player said of DicK, "Here's a guy who could start any-where else and he's on our bench. I hate to see it. There are guys on the team pulling for Larry." But he confirmed Dick's belief that who starts is not an issue, that no anti-Manges sentiment accompanies the support for Dick.
"I might have gone somewhere else and been an All-American," said Dick. "But I've basically been happy here, besides a few depressions."
"Coach Claiborne told us one thing that will stay with me the rest of my life, that we will all have our ups and downs in footballs, and he compares it to life. The people who can cope with the downs are the people who are going to successful in life. I believe that."