Maryland Coach Bobby Ross said yesterday that Drew Komlo has surfaced as the No. 1 quarterback at the midway point of spring football practice.
Komlo, who is 6 feet 4 and 220 pounds, played at DeMatha and will be a sophomore in the fall, has been very impressive in running the Terrapins' offense, has been throwing the ball well and, most important, has been doing a good job reading defenses, according to Ross.
"Drew is by no means a lock at the position, but right now he is the leader," said Ross, who gave the team yesterday off. "He's shown quite a bit of improvement in several areas, particularly in reading defenses. He has forced the ball a bit, but otherwise we've been pleased."
Ross said the staff was still looking carefully at Dan Henning, Neil O'Donnell and Rob Nutile, who are listed in that order on the depth chart but remain very much in contention for the starting quarterback position.
"Things can change at any time," Ross said. "We didn't know if anyone would show this early, and we hope in the next 12 practices, we will be able to get into some first- and second-team concepts now."
Another concern is the offensive line. Ross said 6-4, 275-pound junior Billy Hughes has been a big plus, alternating at center, guard and tackle. "He will definitely start, most likely at the spot where we need him most," Ross said. "Also, running backs Alvin Blount, Bren Lowery, Mike Anderson, Dennis Spinelli and receiver Stephon Scriber have played very well."
Ross said the front eight on defense is perhaps the strength of the team at this moment.
"The first week, I was surprised the offense moved the ball so well on the defense," Ross said. "But the defense has come along very well of late and is ahead of the offense right now. And they should be because of more experience and depth."
At Navy, Coach Gary Tranquill said he has been pleased with the development of the offensive and defensive lines, both major concerns going into the spring.
Only center Vic Tuttle returned on the offensive line, but several of last year's reserve players have stepped in and are playing well.
Defensively, Bob Plantz, a backup last year, is making big plays, as is nose guard Enoch Blazis, who played very little his first three years. Another reserve, Eber Verhovsek, is also playing well at the nose position.
The offense has been fairly consistent because quarterbacks Bill Byrne and Bob Misch are having a good spring. The receivers and running backs have also played well.
Howard's practice has been hampered by some crucial injuries. The Bison's starting defensive tackles, Billy Dores and Reggie Miles, and reserve lineman James Fields have been lost for the duration of drills because of minor knee injuries. They should be available in the fall.
Meanwhile, Coach Willie Jeffries has had to move 6-foot-7, 357-pound tackle Willie Felder from offense to defense. Other moves include safety Spanky Johnson from safety to cornerback and linebacker Anthony Goliday from linebacker to center.
Leon Brown has been splitting his time between quarterback and pitching for the Bison baseball team, leaving much of the work at quarterback to Lee DeBose and freshmen Troy Kyles and Gary Johnson.
"All of them are improving," Jeffries said. "We are putting in quite a few new looks on both offense and defense, more than usual. We want to put in as much as possible, film it and see where we are."
Virginia concludes its spring practice Saturday, and Coach George Welsh, not overly pleased with the play of his defense in last week's scrimmage, will surely be taking a long look at that unit.
"The offense has been getting some things because of breakdowns on defense," Welsh said. "I've been disappointed in some things. The tempo isn't to our liking, and we need to pick it up. We've had some injuries, and we need to improve in certain areas if we are going to be good."
Key players who have missed much of the spring are Kevin Morgan, converted from fullback to tailback, out with a groin pull; guard Mike Battle, with a shoulder bruise; and wide receiver Quanah Bullock, with a pulled hamstring.
One bright spot has been the return of receiver John Ford, who, after making ACC rookie of the year as a freshman, sat out the 1985 season with a knee injury. Ford caught two passes for 25 yards in last week's scrimmage.
Quarterback Don Majkowski has had three good scrimmages, completing 37 of 58 passes for 570 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. Sophomore Chris Warren, converted from cornerback to tailback, has been the top rusher.