Shortly before Saturday's game at Vanderbilt, two players wearing Maryland uniforms for the first time walked into the stadium and looked around with the glee of two little kids.
Bill Rogers thought about how good it felt to finally find a football home. Joe Kraus fielded a few punts and smiled to himself and thought about how good it felt to start over again.
Rogers, a tight end from Marshall High School in Falls Church, played at Georgia Tech in 1980, sat out the 1981 season after transferring to the Naval Academy, and sat out last season after transferring to Maryland.
Kraus, a defensive back from Seneca Valley, transferred to Maryland and sat out last year after leaving Penn State following a dormitory violation. Both are regulars for the Terrapins, and probably will figure prominently in whatever success the team has this season.
Rogers has already figured prominently by catching the pass that he turned into the winning touchdown against Vanderbilt. Kraus, who played safety Saturday, has the kind of talent that allows him to play safety and cornerback, and as a result, gives the Terrapin secondary unusual flexibility.
"It might be a little rare having two transfers in the starting lineup," Coach Bobby Ross said yesterday. "It certainly has helped what was originally thought to be a lean recruiting year in 1982 when we got a late start."
Just after Rogers decided to attend Georgia Tech, his father died of a heart attack. "The distance was just too much with me having to look after my mother and younger brother," Rogers said. "In high school I had thought about going to Navy, so (after catching a touchdown pass against the Midshipmen) I decided to transfer there.
"But I hadn't really thought about my military obligation, which was a deterrent to getting home. When I reevaluated my life, I knew a military life and the commitment afterward weren't what I wanted." After meeting with Joe Krivak, the Maryland offensive coordinator who formerly worked at Navy, Rogers transferred.
He was a little disappointed when he got to Maryland and found he had been assigned No. 82, and not No. 86, which he had worn in high school.
"People said, 'Hey, that's the number John Tice wore; those are big shoes to fill.' So I told them I'd stuff some newspaper in the toes and play." Rogers is playing behind Ron Fazio, but Ross says Rogers has perhaps the best hands of any receiver on the team.
Kraus didn't have to worry about replacing a great player; in fact, he would have started last year if he had been eligible. Kraus stands only 5 feet 10, 180 pounds. "Usually, it's the big, strong guy who's the safety and a smaller quick guy who plays cornerback," Kraus said. "I'm not the prototype safety." But Kraus moved to safety when Al Covington's broken ankle healed slowly, and the coaches have been pleased.
"If you test him," said Greg Williams, defensive backs coach, "he might run (the 40-yard dash) in 4.7. But he can stay step for step with a receiver who runs 4.5. He can change directions like that. He can cover man to man, which makes it like having three cornerbacks, which is great. He's one of those guys who has the great ability who works like he doesn't."
Kraus was on the field Saturday when it was announced that Penn State had lost its second game of the season, 14-3, to Cincinnati.
"All the players were saying, 'Wow, check that out. Aren't you happy Penn State is losing?' " Kraus said. "But I had no reaction at all. I'm not finding any joy in Penn State's misfortune; it really isn't affecting me."