Carl Morton is now Maryland's second-string fullback, a situation that highlights one problem the Terrapins have had all season and another problem that has surfaced in the last 10 days: lack of depth at running back and injuries to the linebacking corps.

A former star at James Bennett High School in Salisbury, Md., Morton was a reserve running back last year, but was dismissed from school after the fall semester because of bad grades.

To regain his academic eligibility, Morton spent the 1987 spring semester and two summer sessions in University College, paying his own way. Two weeks into the '87 fall semester, he found out he could return to playing football and was back on scholarship. Now, as the Terrapins prepare to play Miami Saturday night at the Orange Bowl, Morton is backing up starter Dennis Spinelli and may see some action against the nation's third-ranked team.

"In a way, I don't see it as moving right in because I did start out on the scout team {three weeks ago} to get used to being banged around," Morton said before practice yesterday. "But I do see it as moving in because of the situation at running back."

The situation at running back is this: there are very few of them, and several are banged up a bit.

Fullback Keith Bullock, who this year had been either second or third string, was dismissed from the team last Friday for missing practice last Wednesday and Thursday, Coach Joe Krivak said yesterday.

"He walked off the field during Tuesday's practice and then missed Wednesday and Thursday. Friday, I was looking for him and he came back to ask about his status," Krivak said. "It's happened before with Bobby {Ross}, so I just dismissed him. He will stay on scholarship this year and that will be it."

Bullock could not be reached for comment. Since he is a redshirt junior, he would be a senior academically if he was on schedule.

Krivak said Bullock did not give him any particular reason for his absences other than that Bullock was "concerned with his status."

"I can't put up with that," Krivak said. "If there is a problem, you come and talk to me. You don't pick up and disappear. I have to concern myself with the guys who are working and playing. What would happen if I just decided to take off for two days?"

Next, there is the case of Jack Bradford. A redshirt freshman from Columbia, Md., Bradford worked all of last fall and some of last spring as an outside linebacker. But during spring practice, he was switched to fullback because of the anticipated lack of depth in the backfield. Bradford, who is 6-feet, 205 pounds, worked all preseason and the first four games as either second- or third-string fullback.

Now, however, with three of the four starting linebackers less than 100 percent healthy, Bradford is back at outside linebacker.

The Bradford switch was made one day before Bullock left, when the Terrapins thought they had enough players at fullback. Bullock's departure probably won't affect Bradford's move to defense, although in a crunch, he could become the Gordie Lockbaum of College Park, a possible two-way player.

"We put him back at linebacker because he's a little more natural at that position," Krivak said after practice. Then with a smile, he added, "But he is subject to recall at any time."

Krivak said he will probably use five running backs Saturday. Spinelli and Morton are the fullbacks; Bren Lowery, who leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in receiving, and Arnold Walker are the tailbacks; Michael Anderson plays both.

Morton, a senior academically, but a junior in terms of athletic eligibility, is glad to be back and said he has grown up.

"I hate to say it, but {flunking out} was a reflection of the kid in me in the fall of '86," Morton said. "I didn't do too well, and had to go elsewhere to get myself together. I grew up and found out what the real world is like. Like finding enough money -- who's going to pay for this or that. I borrowed money {from a bank}, and from my family and friends to pay for University College.

"Once I got back, I said I was going to stay until I finish school. This is my fourth year, so I want to play. So far so good."