Erin Henderson and Dan Gronkowski have changed positions to ease the congestion at quarterback and fill Maryland's other team needs.
The shuffling of Henderson to linebacker and Gronkowski to tight end should allow both freshmen to see action this season, even if only on special teams. Both have fallen out of serious contention in the quarterback competition, which has become a race between leader Joel Statham, backup Sam Hollenbach and two players, Jordan Steffy and Ryan Mitch, who are "pushing Hollenbach hard," Coach Ralph Friedgen said yesterday.
"I would always be fighting at the quarterback position my whole career if I had stayed there," Gronkowski said. "It's a lot of work and if you don't play, that's not good. I'm just trying to get on the field."
As a wide receiver his sophomore year in high school, Gronkowski, 6 feet 6 and 247 pounds, set a school record with 539 yards receiving in one game. He has never played tight end, but potentially could be used in goal-line situations, Friedgen said.
Henderson, 6-4 and 225 pounds, had impressed Maryland coaches with his athletic ability at quarterback, but he could play more at linebacker, a position his older brother, two-time all-American E.J. Henderson, mastered during his career in College Park.
Friedgen Wants 'Equity'
Last month Friedgen expressed disappointment about the situation involving former Maryland recruit Kent Hicks, who was deemed eligible by the NCAA, denied admission by Maryland and eventually accepted at Virginia Tech. Friedgen said he should have "a little equity" in the program after graduating 21 of 23 players in 2004 and having 19 on pace to graduate this school year.
Without speaking to specifics, Maryland Athletic Director Debbie Yow said last week that admission decisions for all athletes are made by the admissions department, and that "the process is generally fair, but that does not mean we never disagree on an admission decision."
Yow added, "I do believe the longer Coach Friedgen is here and the more years we experience excellent graduation rates, the more flexibility will be provided to us because they can see the results."
During ACC media day, Friedgen said: "Do I think that we could do other things that would make life easier for me? Yeah, I do. To me, the way the NCAA is right now, the way we're progressing with [President] Myles Brand, to me if he's eligible to go to Virginia or Virginia Tech or Tennessee then he should be put in my responsibility to see that I graduate him."
No Decision on Stadium
Yow said no decision had been made regarding a possible expansion of Byrd Stadium, but discussions continue about the need for a project that likely would be at least primarily privately funded. . . . Friedgen said the running game is ahead of the passing game. Poor offensive execution could cause Friedgen to slow the installation of the offense even more. . . . The two positions that are most wide open, Friedgen said, are tight end and right guard. . . . Strong safety Chris Kelley and cornerback Chris Varner suffered concussions in Sunday's practice, Friedgen said.