Away from the yard lines and the grabby defensive backs, Maryland receiver Vince Kinney becomes disc jockey Vinney Kinney, "the man who gives you plenty. I play this hot wax to make you relax."

Kinney knows all about relaxing. Last year, according to him, he often played football as if he were listening to his own hot wax.

This season, his father, quite a wide receiver in his high school days, told Kinney, "No more relaxing." And Kinney has responded with a phenomenal senior year.

He enters Saturday's crucial game against North Carolina as the leading Terrapin receiver with 488 yards on 27 catches, specializing in the do-you-believe-he-caught-that kind. Already he has surpassed his total intake of last year by a half-dozen receptions.

Mike Allman, Redskin director of college scouting, said "Vince has definitely been making some circus catches. His stock really went up with me in the game against Duke. A lot of kids can play well against Outhouse State, but Maryland really needed that game, and Vince did not fold up his tent."

Rather, he made five tough catches for 76 yards. His best effort came in a losing cause against West Virginia when he snared seven passes for 121 yards. He has battled double coverage and an ankle injury all year with a brand-new fervor.

"My father told me to put my nose to the grindstone and stop messing around," said Kinney. "I was just kind of messing around. I'd have one good week, one bad week, one so-so week. I would drop the easy ones."

"I would go to the line and wonder. 'Will I drop this one too? That's no way to play football.

"I decided this is my senior year, my last year of the best four years of my life, and I'm going to give it my best shot every week."

So rather than taking his eyes off the ball, as he did so often last year to look for running room, Kinney has disciplined himself into a state of complete awareness of the football, starting at the line of scrimmage.

"It's like if you're in bed in your house, and it's very quiet, and you hear a noise," said Kinney. "You're alert, listening, ready - that's the way it is."

Kinney then uses the talents that have been waiting untapped - 4.5 speed, leaping, sure hands and concentration.

Kinney concentrates so intently that he declines to use eye-black for fear it will distract even a corner of his vision.

"I can't even have one blade of grass on my face mask," said Kinney.

Kinney has sampled an assortment of receiver aids. Hand stickum made too many things stick to his fingers, lotion made them too slippery. Finally, he went organic.

"Now all I use is a little spit."

To strengthen his hands, Kinney does push-ups on his fingertips. During high school, his father gave him a tennis ball, which he squeezed while watching television, doing homework, even at meals.

Kinney said the most important thing is his jumping and timing the jump correctly. Time after time, Kinney will pop up like a jack-in-the-box from within a circle of defenders and make a catch with arms and legs flailing all around him.

He credits this most important ability to a drill he practiced at Calvert Hall High School in Baltimore. His basketball coach would throw a ball against the backboard, and he had to grab it above the rim. Kinney is not sure how high he can jump.

"But I know I've bruised my elbow on the top of the rim," he said. Basketball rims are 10 feet high.

"Timing the jump is most important, knowing when to step in front of the man, getting in a position so that if you do miss it, he doesn't catch it," said Kinney. "Before I run my route, I look the defensive back in the eyes. It's like a separate game with the defensive back, trying to prove you're better. It's how bad you want it, how much pride you have."

Kinney has plenty of that. He says, "It's important to me to be known as Vincent Kinney, student and radio-TV major, not just Vince Kinney, football player."

On Tuesday nights, Kinney interviews his teammates on campus radio station WMUC, and on Thursday nights, "I spin records. I play mellow music.

"It's something I can do when I leave here. You can't play ball all your life. That's one thing I learned from my mother."