He was scarcely breathing hard, which seemed unusual. You half expected Kevin Walker to stagger out of the Maryland dressing room and melt onto the pavement, considering that he played six positions Saturday.

The all-around football player isn't quite extinct after all. He wears No. 44 for the Terrapins and can be seen on offense and defense, and as remarkably special on special teams.

Walker was popping up all over Sullivan Stadium in the Terrapins' 31-13 victory over Boston College. In one stunning series, we join him on offense, first and goal on the Boston College two.

Tommy Neal dives into the end zone for Maryland's first touchdown, over BC bodies prone, in part, because of a block by wingback Walker.

Comes the kickoff; comes a pileup at the Boston College 19 and off the bottom leaps wedge-buster Walker. Already on the field, the sophomore stays as a linebacker for a defensive series that ends with an interception by Chuck Faucette.

So . . .

When the Terrapins need a touchdown in what coaches call "tough territory," they often run behind Kevin Walker; when they need an Eagle stuffed or something else dramatic on kickoff or punt teams, Kevin Walker often provides it.

"On third down during our goal-line stand at 17-13," said assistant head coach George Foussekis, "he had great coverage on the back."

The pass was complete to someone else, but far short of a first down -- and Boston College then missed a field goal on what amounted to its last serious threat of the game.

"He can really be a force," said Coach Bobby Ross.

He already is, despite playing with his right wrist and thumb in a cast, the result of bones broken during a scrimmage a couple of weeks ago.

Still shaky, but not shaken, Maryland may be relying more than expected on Walker and the others on defense and special teams this season.

The offense largely remains an armless creature. The legs are fine; the arm often is erratic, even on relatively simple passes.

After two games, linebacker Faucette is Maryland's fourth-leading pass receiver, with two interceptions. The defensive backfield has one more catch than all the tight ends.

Quarterback Stan Gelbaugh was better than the week before, and Ross was encouraged with one or two plays that ended in losses. Even though penalties nullified the gains, Gelbaugh had been hard and accurate with his passes.

"Maybe we've got (the caution) out of our system," Ross said.

Into Maryland's system as often as possible bursts Kevin Walker. Players who can flatten the opposition regularly have a way of being on the field as much as possible.

In high school, Walker played just about every down of every game until his senior year. Then was allowed to catch his breath during kicks.

He was the only non-redshirt freshman to play for the Terrapins last year, mostly on offense, clearing paths as a blocker and carrying nine times for 58 yards.

"The first scrimmage last year is when I felt I belonged (in big-time college football)," he said. "I got a good look at what it's all about. I became more comfortable."

Foussekis said Walker was in for "only about 15 plays" in the season opener against Penn State; he was credited with five tackles, all of them first hits.

"He gets better with each game," Foussekis said. "This is because he's never played linebacker before. He just needs time to see things, though he's now like a starter in the (linebacker) rotation."

"In the thick of things" is how Ross puts it, adding, "He could be a fullback, but we've already got Rick (Badanjek) and (Stephon) Scriber.

"Right now (although inexperienced), he's a heckuva linebacker, in the Penn State mold. Good size, mobile and a hitter.

"We'll keep him (on offense) on short-yardage plays. Maybe use him four or five plays a game on offense."

For the 226-pound Walker, there is not the off-the-field confusion that might be expected of one so versatile. Since he cannot be two places at the same time, he surely must miss some sort of meeting now and then.

"Actually, no," Walker said. "The defense and special teams meet at different times -- and the (offense) coach will take me aside to keep me up with what I need to know as a blocker."

In truth, Kevin Walker is not the multithreat reincarnation of Doak Walker. What gets him so much time in so many ways is a single skill: hitting.

"He can be outstanding," Foussekis insists.

Ross and the other coaches also appreciate Walker's B average and his penchant for playing a much better game than he talks.

If there were such a statistic as total hits, on offense and defense and special teams, Walker surely would be the runaway leader.

First on Maryland's hit parade, and only 4,000 or so behind Pete Rose.