Kevin Glover isn't trying to play down the importance of the Sun Bowl to his future. Glover, Maryland's senior center, is one of the primary reasons the Terrapins finished the regular season by winning seven of eight games.
He would like nothing more than to play one final good game for Maryland and help the school win a bowl game for the first time since 1977. But the game means more than that to Glover. He is one of several Maryland seniors whose pro football potential will be determined, in part, by his performance here against Tennessee on Saturday afternoon.
"There certainly is a lot laying on the line," Glover said. "I really don't know what to expect."
Several National Football League scouts say that Glover has a chance to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft. And the scouts will be here to watch closely at least three other Maryland seniors -- quarterback Frank Reich, linebacker Eric Wilson and receiver Greg Hill.
The personnel evaluators say it's difficult to project where Reich, who has started only half of one season, will be drafted. His success here and in two postseason all-star games will probably weigh more heavily in their minds than for Glover.
"Kevin Glover's going to be a real player," Bruce Nicholas, a Buffalo Bills scout, said today. "People knew he was a good one coming into the season. He's strong, active and really aware."
Maryland Coach Bobby Ross has said all season that his team's reversal, from an 0-2 start, could not have been possible without the sustained excellence of Glover, whom Ross made a cocaptain before the season. Now, Ross hopes Glover's performance and his role as a team leader will be recognized by the pro scouts.
"He's extremely smart," Ross said. "He does all of our calling at the line of scrimmage. That's a real plus in the pros, I would think. I see him as having great feet; he can stick with his block. He always finishes plays quite well. He's a good zone blocker and a good pass protector.
"But the feet and the movement are the big thing they like, I think," Ross said. "He's the type of center who can get out in front of sweeps and pulls if he has to. His size is fine to play center. Some teams may want a real big center. But for most teams his size would seem fine."
Glover, who will be playing with Reich in the Hula and Senior bowls, said he doesn't mind the fact that scouts often place so much weight on bowl and all-star games.
"I would like to have those two extra games to prove myself even more," Glover said. "And I'd also use it as an opportunity to build my confidence, knowing that I can play with the top people in the country."
Nicholas said, "We like to think we wouldn't really downgrade somebody on the basis of an all-star game. But we would upgrade quite a bit."
That's where Reich comes in. Reich missed part of the season with an injured shoulder and found it hard to regain his starting job from a hot Stan Gelbaugh. Reich finished the season ranked among the top 10 in quarterback efficiency ratings.
"People probably need to see more of Reich," Nicholas said. "We'll probably have a better feel after the bowl games about him. Missing a few games means he'll have less exposure on game film. But he's playing in the Hula Bowl, and he'll get all the exposure he needs."
One scout who asked not to be named said Reich would be chosen in the first four rounds, but it will be difficult to figure out how high until after the postseason games and his private workouts for personnel evaluators. "You never know with a quarterback," the scout said. "There's not many senior quarterbacks. He can have a hot bowl game and his stock can really go up."
Nicholas said of Reich, "We do know he has a really strong arm. And it's impressive the way he stands in there and gets his passes off. Plus that, we like the way he came back against a team like Miami (from 31 points down to win, 42-40) and the leadership that reflects."
The scouts seem divided on Wilson, Maryland's all-time leading tackler. "He's very active," Nicholas said. "His time speed may not be ideal, but there are people who play faster than they time. We know that Eric Wilson makes a lot of plays."
All the plays they make beginning Saturday, in the Sun Bowl, will help Maryland's seniors as the NFL scouts give them a critical look.