Twenty-five minutes before Maryland's practice yesterday, Ryan Mitch jogged onto the field wearing his No. 10 jersey.
Mitch, a backup quarterback who had missed two practices and a team meeting, yesterday pledged to remain with the Maryland program the next four years. The 19-year-old redshirt freshman regretted his absence, adding only that his emotions had reached a "boiling point" Sunday.
Mitch had become confused by what he considered a sudden move to fourth-string quarterback Sunday after having received earlier praise from coaches, a source close to Mitch has said.
Describing the 48-hour stretch of uncertainty as "terrible," Mitch said he could neither eat nor sleep while contemplating whether to leave the program. He and his mother, Janet, talked with Coach Ralph Friedgen in separate meetings Monday.
"You never want to say [leaving] wasn't a thought," Mitch said. "But this is where I want to be. I decided to be a Terp my junior year in high school and I'll be a Terp all five years."
During Friedgen's Monday afternoon meeting with Mitch, the coach shared a poignant story from his Maryland playing days. When Friedgen arrived on campus, he was one quarterback among seven in his class.
He was shuffled to fullback then to linebacker then to guard and considered transferring. Friedgen told his father that the coaching staff said they would provide a positive recommendation.
"My father said, 'That key you have is not going to fit when you get home. I'm changing the locks. Quitters don't live here,' " Friedgen remembered. "And I've remembered that a lot."
Offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe, who also met with Mitch on Monday, referenced a more recent example: Scott McBrien. Taaffe said McBrien, Maryland's starting quarterback the past two years, was "despondent" after Maryland fell to 0-2 by losing to Florida State last year and almost quit. And now McBrien is playing for the Green Bay Packers.
"Part of what we do as coaches, other than coach on the field, is help young people grow up," Taaffe said. "In Ryan's case, he was a three-year starter at DeMatha. This is probably the first time in his career where he's faced stiff competition. Learning how to deal with that is part of growing up."
Friedgen usually suspends a player who misses practice for one game, but he does not "think that punishment fits this situation." Overall, Friedgen said, players have started to hit a wall mentally and physically because of the series of two-a-day practices that will end today. What's more, when four young quarterbacks compete for one job, frustration is sure to mount.
"There's nothing held against [Mitch], no grudges, because they are young people," Taaffe said. "They are little kids in big bodies and sometimes you expect them to be more mature than they are."
Terrapins Notes: Maryland has sold out all single-game tickets for home games against Georgia Tech (Oct. 9), North Carolina State (Oct. 16) and Florida State (Oct. 30). . . . Freshman running back Keon Lattimore has told Friedgen he would like to rehab his dislocated shoulder rather than undergo surgery. . . . Defensive tackle Robert Armstrong, after undergoing a battery of tests on his back, could play in Thursday's scrimmage. . . . An MRI exam revealed that left tackle Stephon Heyer has a sprained lateral collateral ligament in his right leg. Friedgen said Heyer might have been saved from surgery because of new $400 braces the linemen have used.