August means a number of things to college football players: high hopes and enthusiasm, frequently dulled by heat and two-a-day practices.
To most seniors it also means something else, the beginning of the end, the start of the last leg of the trip that for most players began at 11 or 12.
"Everything has to come to an end sometime, I guess," said Paul Glamp, who begins his senior year at Maryland listed as a starting offensive tackle. "I know I'll miss this, everything, including the workouts. But right now I'm not thinking about that; I'm just thinking about having a great season."
Similar thoughts are on the minds of players from all area schools. Maryland starts its preseason Monday with picture day and full-scale workouts begin Tuesday. Navy will have its picture day Friday and begin workouts the following Monday. Howard's players will dress for pictures Monday and start work Tuesday.
Virginia and Virginia Tech also begin workouts this week while local small colleges will begin their preparations next week.
For most seniors pro football is nothing more than an abstract dream. So, as they prepare for the 1979 season most of them know that there are a number of "lasts" awaiting them: last picture day; last two-a-day; last opener; last game.
"Right now I'm not thinking about this being the last time around, though," said Rick Bott, who will be Navy's starting center this year after playing guard and tackle in previous years. "I'm just trying to think about it as another year, work hard to get used to my new position."
Greg Scott, Howard's kick returner who hopes to move in as a starting wide receiver this season, feels differently. "Knowing this is my last chance I think I'll probably give 110 percent whereas maybe in the past I gave 100 percent," he said. "I want this year to be special because I know it's the one I'll look back on the most the rest of my life."
Navy and Naryland had varying success a year ago.The Terps and Mids, both 9-3, started fast and faded towards the end of the season. But Navy achieved its two major goals - a win over Army and a victory over Brigham Young in the Holiday Bowl - while Maryland lost the Atlantic Coast Conference title to Clemson and was humiliated, 42-0, by Texas in the Sun Bowl.
The only postseason action for Howard, 4-6, came when Coach Doug Porter was fired and replaced by Floyd Keith. The Bison, with 20 seniors on the squad, are hoping to rebound to contention in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference this season.
At Maryland, Coach Jerry Claiborne says his primary goal is to recapture the ACC championship his club won three years running (1974-76) before losing it to North Carolina in 1977 and Clemson last year.
The Tigers won that title by coming from behind to beat the Terps, 28-24, in Byrd Stadium. "It really hurt me for us to lose the championship there in our own stadium," Claiborne said. "I always figure if we've got a game for the title in Byrd, we should win that title."
The Terps will rely heavily on their defense and their offensive line to make up for the loss of most of last year's backfield, quarterback Tim O'Hare and running backs Steve Atkins and Alvin (Preacher) Maddox.
That means players like Glamp, Chris Gray and Rich Cummings, all seniors who have worked their way up to starting roles, will be key men for Maryland.
"We've gone through a lot of hard work together," said Glamp, whose broken arm in 1977 prevented him from breaking into the starting lineup last season. "Now we feel like our time has arrived."
Claiborne is counting on 6-foot-7 Mike Tice to take over for O'Hare despite an operation this spring for a separated shoulder. George Scott, who set several school records in 1977 but sat out 1978 with a knee injury and faces an Aug. 21 court date on misdemeanor drug charges, is being counted on to replace Atkins.
"We've got great athletes in the backfield even if they are a little inexperienced," said Glamp, whose twin brother Mike is being counted on on the other side of the line. "We know we've got a lot of hard work ahead because summer practice is hell. But next year at this time, I know I'll be missing it."
The Terps open at home Sept. 8 against Villanova.
At Navy, Bott is one of a group of seniors on both lines that Coach George Welsh is relying on to help his club repeat last season's performance, Navy's best record since 1963.
With quarterback Bob Leszczynski and receivers Phil McConkey and Sandy Jones graduated, the Mid passing game is a question mark. But senior Bob Powers has seen considerable playing time behind Leszczynski the past two years and the top four running backs, including leading rusher Steve Callahan, are back.
"When I was on cruise this summer (in Europe) a lot of people talked about the Army game, which was nice," said Bott. "But it seemed like even more of them saw the bowl game. It would be really nice to repeat that.But that's a long way down the line; right now summer practice is the next challenge."
Navy opens Sept. 15 against the Citadel in Annapolis.
For rookie Coach Keith the challenges at Howard are numerous. He has an excellent quarterback in Brian Thomas and tight end Fitz Fowler is a fine ball catcher who will team with Scott at the receiving spots.
"We were 4-6 last year and that was disappointing," said Fowler. "It's important to every senior on this team that we make sure we go out of here as winners."
Howard's opener is Sept. 8 when it hosts West Virginia State.
At Virginia, Dick Bestwick is hoping that he can improve on a three-year record of 5-27-1, including last year's 2-9 with a team that was competitive in almost all its games. Richmond visits Charlottesville Sept. 8 inthe Cavs' opener.
Bill Dooley, almost always a winner at North Carolina, suffered through a 4-7 rookie season at Virginia Tech in 1978. But after an excellent recruiting year Dooley is hoping for a winning season. The Gobblers debut Sept. 8 at Louisville.
Joe Paterno of Penn State, Bear Bryant of Alabama and Jerry Claiborne of Maryland have qualified for the nations' "Top 20 Coaches" list based on career winning percentage.
Paterno leads in percentage (.829) with a record of 123-25-1 while Bryant leads in total victories with 284 and is third in percentage at .775. Claiborne tops the second 10 with a 119-62-4 record and .654 winning percentage. CAPTION: Picture, Jerry Claiborne greets Maryland freshmen football prospects. By Ken Feil - The Washington Post