Maryland Coach Jerry Claiborne said yesterday he will focus his major recruiting effort on Washington-area high school players, which appears to be a shift in Claiborne's recruiting philosophy.
"We're going to concentrate on recruiting football players right here in the local area," Claiborne said yesterday. "There are some good players here that we want and want bad. Players that we need. We're going after kids who can run, kids that have speed. They can come in here and help Maryland football immediately."
In his 10 seasons as head coach at Maryland, Claiborne has taken many Washington-area players, but concentrated primarily on prospects from the outer reaches of Maryland, western Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Long Island. Only 13 players on Maryland's 83-man roster from Saturday's game are from the Washington area. Only one, sophomore defensive back Gil Hoffman, is from the District of Columbia.
But Claiborne suffered through his first losing record (4-6-1) this season. He has reluctantly acknowledged that his defensive backs are relatively slow. National Football League scouts say the talent at Maryland has declined the past few years and a large reason may be lack of speed.
Atlantic Coast Conference opponents Clemson and North Carolina beat out Maryland this year with faster, quicker players -- several of them from the Washington area.
"It's a different game now than it was seven and eight years ago," Maryland senior defensive tackle Greg Vanderhout said after the Clemson game two weeks ago. "You can't just put five big guys up front and give the ball to a back and expect to win consistently. The game is too fast, too complicated for that now. Maryland has to reevaluate its stance on that philosophy."
Instead of reviewing game film, as he usually does on Sunday, Claiborne was out watching a local high school game yesterday. His first priority will be recruiting fast, agile defensive backs and linebackers. Eight of Claiborne's top 12 offensive lineman return next year. And 10 of 12 defensive linemen are back.
Two departing seniors, tailback Charlie Wysocki and defensive end Mark Wilson, led the Terrapins to a 48-7 victory over Virginia (1-9, 0-6 in the ACC) Saturday in Maryland's season finale at Byrd Stadium.
Wysocki, Maryland's all-time leading rusher, gained 153 yards and scored four of the Terrapins' six running touchdowns. He finished his career with 3,317 yards on 769 carries. Wilson, a defensive standout for much of the season, intercepted a pass on Virginia's first possession, leading to Maryland's first touchdown.
The Cavaliers, who have suffered a staggering amount of injuries this season, sustained several more casualties in Saturday's defeat. Quarterback Gordie Whitehead aggravated his separated left shoulder. His backup, Todd Kirtley, hit his head during the game and was woozy yesterday. Wingback Vince Taylor pulled a hamstring. Linebacker Rickey Callinder bruised his heel and offensive guard Randy Brookshire bruised his back.
"It certainly pays to keep a team healthy if you can find a way to do it," Virginia Coach Dick Bestwick said. The Cavaliers finish their season next week against Virginia Tech.
The Naval Academy had Saturday off, but accepted a bid to play Ohio State (8-3) in the Liberty Bowl Dec. 30 in Memphis. The Midshipmen (7-3) were 2-2 at one point, but overcame injuries to win five of their last six.
The Hall of Fame Bowl announced yesterday that Kansas (8-3) will oppose Mississippi State (7-4) in that game Dec. 31 in Birmingham, Ala.