Mike Skubon is rolling the dice, and he thinks the odds are in his favor.
He isn't a gambler, he's just one of 10 walk-ons trying to make the Maryland football team. Yesterday, he, the other invited walk-on candidates and 20 freshmen on scholarship arrived at College Park for physicals. They will undergo conditioning testing this morning and will participate in their first workout, in shorts, today at 3:30.
Players returning from last year's team will report Wednesday. They will undergo physicals Thursday, but will not practice that day.
Among the returning players will be two defensive tackles, Scott Tye and Ted Chapman, both of whom walked on when they were freshmen -- which partly explains why Skubon, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound linebacker from South Hagerstown High School, has a chance to make the team that's ranked as high as No. 1 in some preseason polls.
"It's (the role of walk-ons) extremely important," said Maryland Coach Bobby Ross. "If there's been a program in this country that attests to the importance of it, I think it would be ours.
"All our kickers have been walk-ons, including Jess Atkinson. Since I've been here, I think I've awarded 13 scholarships to walk-ons."
Five of the 10 prospective walk-ons are kickers and punters. According to John Misciagna, Maryland's director of recruiting, the university doesn't award scholarships to kickers and punters directly out of high school.
"We have guys who are highly recommended from their high school coaches and we look at them on film," Misciagna said. "Then they (the players) make requests to come out early."
That was the case with Skubon. His high school coach, Don Hull, knew Jeffrey Mann, one of Ross' assistants.
"They asked me to walk on," Skubon said. "They didn't offer me a scholarship, but my (high school) football coach and Coach Mann thought I had a chance to earn one."
Skubon was an all-tri-state and an all-area selection at South Hagerstown. He thought about attending Harvard or Pennsylvania, but neither of the Ivy League schools offers athletic scholarships. He has received a $1,000 academic scholarship to study engineering at Maryland. He says if he doesn't make the team he will continue to attend the university.
"I'm going to give it my best chance," he said. "This is much higher caliber football than Harvard or Pennsylvania. And Maryland is rated one of the top engineering schools in the country."
Howard: Thirty-four freshmen will report Monday and players from last year's varsity will follow on Tuesday. The Bison will begin double sessions Wednesday, in preparation for their first game at Maine, Sept. 7. They were originally scheduled to play their first home game against Rhode Island Sept. 14, but because of field construction, they will have to wait until Sept. 28 against South Carolina State.
Navy: Forty plebes, 87 upperclassmen and a healthy Napoleon McCallum, who is literally in a class by himself, will return for meetings Sunday, pictures Monday and practice Tuesday.
Virginia: Eighteen freshmen will report to Charlottesville Aug. 18 and returning players will arrive for the first practice Aug. 23. The Cavaliers will open against VMI Sept. 14.