Quarterback Randall Jones and tailback LaMont Jordan are listed first at their positions on Maryland's depth charts as practice begins today. However, Coach Ron Vanderlinden said yesterday both face competition to keep their jobs.
Jones finished last season as the starting quarterback, but he struggled throughout his freshman year. Vanderlinden said Jones improved greatly at spring practice, but new recruit Latrez Harrison has been impressive in the early summer workouts and will get a chance to show his skills.
"Randall Jones is our starter," Vanderlinden said at the team's media day. "Randall made improvements throughout the spring. After just four practices, Latrez looks like everything we hoped. We have one of the most talented quarterbacks in the country as a recruit."
Jones started four games last year and completed 44 of 98 passes for 567 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. He also ran for 230 yards and three touchdowns. Jones said he has worked hard since last season to get ready for a stronger sophomore year and said he'll welcome a battle with Harrison.
"I don't care what [Vanderlinden] says, I'm out here to play football," Jones said. "If he says I have to compete for my job, I'll do it."
In the case of Jordan, the former Suitland High standout's chances might be hampered by his weight and his need to take summer school classes, Vanderlinden said. Jordan, a second-team all-ACC pick last year after rushing for 906 yards, reported to practice at 225 pounds -- 10 pounds heavier than the coaching staff expected. Now he could "have a hard time" staying ahead of Mukala Sikyala, a junior walk-on from Einstein High in Kensington who did very well in spring practice.
"Those two are about even right now," Vanderlinden said of Jordan and Sikyala.
Jordan's final summer classes finish next week. He said he hadn't worked out much during the summer, which concerned Vanderlinden.
"If LaMont can get himself together academically, he'll be able to help us," Vanderlinden said. "I don't know if we really know how good he can be because he needs to learn how to push a lot harder than he should."
Said Jordan: "I've been eating a lot. Eating all the wrong foods. This summer my main focus hasn't been football. My focus has been getting my grades up."
Cruz's Status Uncertain
Wide receiver Moises Cruz, arrested in April for allegedly hitting another man in the face with a bottle during a fight, has a court appearance scheduled for Sept. 21.
Cruz, 21, is charged with first-degree assault and second-degree assault. Both charges are misdemeanors.
Vanderlinden declined to comment on Cruz yesterday. Previously, Vanderlinden has said that Cruz will be suspended, and that the length of the suspension will depend on the results of Cruz's court case. If Vanderlinden waits until Cruz's court appearance, the junior from Germantown will miss at least the first three games of the season. Maryland's third game is Sept. 18 against West Virginia; its fourth game is Sept. 30 against Georgia Tech.
The Conversion Is Good
Aaron Thompson ran for 2,325 yards and 37 touchdowns during his senior year at Mount St. Joseph in Baltimore three years ago. But the Maryland coaches shifted him to linebacker, and the red-shirt sophomore is proving that was a wise move.
Thompson started all 11 games last year at outside linebacker and finished fourth on the team with 87 tackles. He averaged 7.9 tackles per game, and the coaches expect more big things from him as he is again first string on the depth chart.
"He has a chance to become a dominant linebacker in this conference," Vanderlinden said.
Vanderlinden announced yesterday that the Terrapins will change their home uniforms, switching to red jerseys and black pants.
The team has worn black jerseys and white pants for the last two years, but Vanderlinden said changing to the red jerseys should help bring some tradition back to the program. The team's helmets and road uniforms will stay the same.
Staff writer Josh Barr and special correspondent Seth Emerson contributed to this report.