For most of the Maryland football players, their first practice session in pads yesterday was a glorious experience, as offense and defense released the frustrations of summer by pounding on each other.
"I've been waiting a long time to hit people," said defensive guard Mike Corvino, smiling broadly.
For third-string safety Bob Gunderman, stripping a pass receiver with a resounding tackle, and for freshman guard Carl Bond, capably neutralizing a veteran defensive linesmen, it was a day to remember.
Others, however, carried negative feelings with them as they trudged from the practice field behind Byrd Stadium.
Jon Simmons, first-team right cornerback, suffered a compound dislocation of the left hand while breaking up a pass. The bone in the little finger was protruding through the skin before trainer John Bush patched Simmons together and dispatched him to Washington Hospital Center, where he underwent surgery.
It appeared that Simmons was hurt when he landed on the hand, but he said, "Whatever happened was caused by the ball. It was hurting before I came down and I made a conscious effort not to land on it."
Simmons, from Baltimore, is involved in a tight competition for No. 1 status with two other sophomores, Lendell Jones and Clarence Baldwin, and this mishap will decrease his chances of starting the opener at Vanderbilt Sept. 12.
Bill Pugh, second-team tight end, and Willie Joyner, third-string tailback, pulled muscles. Bruised knees were common, as were ice packs.
Sitting on a table, wearing his Baltimore Orioles cap and resting his left foot on a tackling dummy, was Todd Wright, the first-string center who reported to this session on crutches. Wright was dancing through a rope drill Thursday afternoon when his foot bumped a teammates' foot and became tangled in the rope. Wright sprained an ankle and will miss the first few crucial days in pads.
Although the injury was not serious, it will set back Wright's progress, and he was disgusted as he watched his teammates hammering away. Wright, a defensive guard during much of his college career, was shifted to center a year ago. He never has lettered at Maryland but now, in his fifth year on campus, he had persevered to become a first-stringer. n
"I've been waiting five years to play and now I get a break like this," Wright said. "I've been looking forward to starting for four years and I really wanted to hit today. I miss the hitting. And I miss the guys.
"The defense gets a lot of attention making tackles, but an offensive lineman just has the satisfaction of doing his job. One thing, though, for a center is having all your buddies around you. The line is close together. The guys are real tight."
Head Coach Jerry Claiborne was pleased by the effort, but unhappy with the growing list of wounded. Besides those injured this first week of practice, No. 2 wingback Spencer Scriber has been hospitalized with an undiagnosed stomach disorder; defensive end Bob Mattis is still at home after falling and banging his knee on concrete, and fullback Dave D'Addio is experiencing knee problems related to previous surgery.
"I'm tickled to death with the way they're working," Claiborne said. "But we can't afford things like Simmons landing on his hand and Wright slipping in the ropes. They are real setbacks."