Tag Archive | "Ralph Friedgen"

Former Terps WR Torrey Smith ready to “help Ravens get to a Super Bowl…and win it”

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Former Terps WR Torrey Smith ready to “help Ravens get to a Super Bowl…and win it”

Posted on 04 May 2011 by Ryan Chell

From the start of the evaluation process for the 2011 NFL Draft, the Ravens personnel department said repeatedly that they were very interested in bringing in former Maryland Terps wide receiver Torrey Smith for a look at solving their offensive woes.

Torrey Smith

But only if the price was right.

And that price was at best a second-round pick-which happened to be the case as former Ravens LB Peter Boulware announced that Baltimore had selected the Maryland Terrapins junior receiver with the 58th selection last Friday night.

And for Smith, playing for the nearby Ravens was definitely a possibility  for him, as he told Thyrl Nelson Monday on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” in his first appearance on Nelson’s program since becoming a Raven.

Smith had joined Nelson every week since January giving updates on his draft preparation.

“I knew it was a possibility,” Smith told Nelson. “I wanted to be there.”

Before the draft based on Smith’s pure athletic ability, resume at Maryland and his Combine numbers, Torrey Smith had been projected by every mock draft to at least land on all 32 NFL teams.

But luckily, Smith was able to fall given some of the other wide receivers and position players being of need.

But despite not being drafted Thursday by an NFL team, Smith knew that he could always rely on the Ravens to call his name.

“I felt like Ozzie and Coach Harbaugh wanted to draft me,” Smith said. “I’m just happy everything happened the way it did.”

In a sense, it seemed like it was meant to be for the Ravens to take their second Jimmy Smith of the draft weekend (Torrey’s real first name is James.)

“I didn’t necessarily think he was going to be there,” Ravens director of pro personnel Eric DeCosta told Drew Forrester Tuesday morning. “I thought it was probably a 50-50 shot.”

It does come as quite the surprise that Smith was available to the Ravens at 58 given his impressive resume in his final season at Maryland.

Smith had 67 catches (4th best in school history), 1,055 yards and a Maryland-record 12 TDs in his final season at College Park, and built on his career numbers of 152 catches, 2,215 yards, and 19 TDs.

Only former Raven Jermaine Lewis has more receiving touchdowns (21)and yards (2,932)in his career than Smith.

Smith hopes he can bring the same skills to the table taking passes from Joe Flacco behind two of the best in the business.

“I just want to help anywhere I can,” Smith said. “I’m lucky to be able to learn from Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin. I’m looking forward to learning from them.”

Smith also offers versatility and options to the Ravens in the return game. In fact, Smith broke onto the scene in the ACC more for his return skills at first-then he blossomed into an NFL-caliber receiver.

In his career, he amassed 2, 983 return yards which broke the previous ACC-record.

His three career touchdowns returned via kickoff are a Terrapins school record.

All-in-all, it was everything Smith brings to the Ravens that caused Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome to call Smith their “three-pointer”.

“I think the Ravens can use my speed,” Smith said. “They need that from me. I’m happy I can provide that and give the Ravens my best up there.”

But Torrey’s going to have to put on the brakes for now. Just like the rest of the Ravens draft picks minus first-rounder Jimmy Smith, Torrey Smith unfortunately wasn’t able to get a playbook from the Ravens coaching staff due to the lockout being put back into place by the owners Friday into Saturday.

“I was only able to say hello at the press conference and that was it. I couldn’t talk about football and didn’t get any playbooks,” Smith said. “It was tough.”

But so far, he has heard from several of his new Ravens teammates though and they are ready to embrace him as quickly as the opportunity presents itself.

And he’s ready to use the same speed in getting prepared toward playing in the NFL that he used toward burning past ACC-defenders and tacklers.

“My goal is to help the Ravens get to a Super Bowl and win it,” Smith said. “I hope the judge rules in favor of the players so that everything can get going.”

WNST thanks Torrey Smith for joining “The Mobtown Sports Beat” after being drafted by the Ravens and leading up to the Draft as well! Torrey being a Raven makes it that much easier to root for him! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Terps finish first spring under Edsall with Red-White game

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Terps finish first spring under Edsall with Red-White game

Posted on 30 April 2011 by Luke Jones

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Following their first spring under new coach Randy Edsall, the Maryland Terrapins celebrated a month of practices with the annual Red-White game before a sparse crowd at Byrd Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Despite a tight-lipped demeanor from Edsall and plenty of mystery over what the Terps will really look like under the new regime, quarterback Danny O’Brien and the starting offense shined in a 35-7 victory for the Red over the White.

“I thought the guys really competed,” Edsall said. “I thought they had fun. That’s really what the spring game is all about.”

Trying to build off his ACC Rookie of the Year season in 2010, O’Brien threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Ronnie Tyler on the first play from scrimmage and finished the day 16 of 23 with 199 yards and two touchdown passes, guiding the starting offense to touchdowns on its first three possessions. Tyler caught a second touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 27-yard toss to cap off a 12-play, 81-yard drive.

“It was nice,” said O’Brien, who also tossed two interceptions. “The offense came together. We watered down, I think, what we are going to do on offense. We only ran like half our playbook, so we really wanted to focus on executing.”

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Edsall and several players — O’Brien included — would not reveal the specifics of what kind of wrinkles we might see offensively under new coordinator Gary Crowton, but the early return seemed favorable after O’Brien’s productive day and a combined 129 rushing yards and two touchdowns from the running back tandem of senior Davin Meggett and sophomore D.J. Adams. The offensive tempo appeared quicker than a year ago as the unit went no-huddle at different times in the game.

“There are some things that are a lot different, but there are some things that are the exact same thing we did last year, we just call it something else,” O’Brien said. “It just depends on what facet of it. The run game I think is a lot different. There’s some new wrinkles in the passing game that we never did last year, but a lot of it is the same concept. It’s been an adjustment, but it’s coming pretty well.”

With plenty of talented players returning from a team that finished 9-4 in Ralph Friedgen’s final season as head coach, Edsall will lean on his young quarterback to lead a smooth transition despite the loss of starting receivers Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon. O’Brien will depend on Tyler, Kevin Dorsey, Quintin McCree, and Kerry Boykins to pick up the slack after fulfilling smaller roles in the past.

“[O'Brien's] knowledge of what we want to do and his command of what we want to do, like I said, you could just see that getting better with each practice,” Edsall said. “I thought he looked very comfortable, very poised out there today. My whole thing is I just think he’s just going to get better and better with every day that we practice.”

Developing the type of chemistry with the remaining receivers that he shared with Smith — drafted in the second round by the Ravens on Friday night — will be critical, especially with early tests against Miami and West Virginia to begin the season.

“We had the chemistry before, already coming into [the spring], but you obviously get more reps, especially with this offense,” Dorsey said. “We’re throwing the ball a lot more, so we’re obviously getting more chances to get the ball and really run routes and get our timing together.

While the offense thrived in the first half, that success came at the expense of the starting defense, which allowed 199 total yards in the first quarter before settling in. Edsall explained how the defense had also started slowly in some of the team’s scrimmages throughout the spring.

“You’ve got to remember we didn’t let them do anything,” said Edsall about the defensive struggles. “We just basically played a couple coverages and really one front the whole time. We had no movement.”

New defensive coordinator Todd Bradford will apparently rely on far less blitzing than Don Brown, requiring defensive backs to cover longer and the defensive line to get to the quarterback. Seven defensive starters return this season including first-team all-ACC safety Kenny Tate, who has moved to the “Star” position, a hybrid strong safety and outside linebacker position.

The unit as a whole figures to play a more disciplined brand of defense with more emphasis on fulfilling assignments and less on creating chaos in the offensive backfield.

“We just have a lot more responsibility and we just have a lot more things that we have to do in this defense, and I like it,” said cornerback Dexter McDougle, who gave up the opening touchdown pass on a busted coverage. “I feel like it’s better for us because we get to really get a feel for the position and we’ve learned so much so far playing for [Edsall]. I feel like I’ve learned more in one week than I learned in a whole year.”

With the all-around vanilla nature of the spring game, it remains to be seen what Maryland will look when it takes the field at Byrd Stadium on Labor Day night against Miami. While we don’t know how high Edsall can ultimately take a program many feel had plateaued under Ralph Friedgen, expectations are as high as they’ve been in College Park for quite some time.

“I’m very pleased with the spring in terms of how we started and how we finished,” Edsall said. “I thought we made good progress throughout the spring. We still have a lot of work to do. But again, I thought the overall attitude and intensity was good. I thought the players really understand what we’re looking for, how we have to practice, what we have to do in order to win championships.”

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Live From Owings Mills: “Smith” Ravens’ 2nd Pick, Terps’ Torrey Adds New Chapter to Amazing Story

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Live From Owings Mills: “Smith” Ravens’ 2nd Pick, Terps’ Torrey Adds New Chapter to Amazing Story

Posted on 29 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Let me start with some full disclosure. I’m a University of Maryland alum and an unabashed supporter of the Terrapins football program.

I’ll follow with further full disclosure. There was no prospect in the 2011 NFL Draft that I was more familiar with than former Terps WR Torrey Smith. You probably won’t remember this gem of an “interview” from the team’s 2010 Media Day in College Park…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apWJYZNRyQA[/youtube]

On top of that, I coordinated a weekly appearance between Smith and AM1570 host Thyrl Nelson every Tuesday since January on “The Mobtown Sports Beat.”

Now that it’s all out there, I’ll speak freely.

And after looking past a lengthy rap-sheet to select Colorado CB Jimmy Smith in the first round, the Baltimore Ravens grabbed an amazing human being in the 2nd-round (58th pick overall) by selecting their second Smith of the week.

(They’re of course hoping he pans out to be just as good of a football player at the NFL level as well.)

Smith’s story is well-known amongst Maryland fans, and will quickly become just as known amongst similar Ravens fans who gobbled up everything Michael Oher and “The Blind Side” related two seasons ago.

As detailed in an incredible Washington Post story by Eric Prisbell (Head Coach John Harbaugh said Friday night he was “choked up” and “proud” of Smith after just reading the article), Smith’s childhood was impossibly difficult.

Smith was born three months early, undersized with meningitis and jaundice. He was rushed to an incubator and lived the first 10 weeks of his life in a hospital.

Smith’s childhood would leave him witness to a scene where his mother, Monica, was held at gunpoint by her then-husband and Smith was immediately forced to help raise his younger siblings as early as the age of four.

As recently as 2010, Smith’s mother had faced up to ten years in prison stemming from a fight with her daughter-in-law (a plea agreement would help prevent the lengthy sentence).

As I said, I’d suggest you read the story.

“You saw the celebration (after the pick was announced) when they had Torrey on TV?” asked Harbaugh following the 2nd round. “I want you to know there was a bigger celebration in our Draft room when we got this player.”

The Ravens are clearly excited about adding Smith’s size, speed and resume to a receiving corps that already features multiple Pro Bowl performers in Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin. Smith measured in at 6’1″, 204 pounds and clocked a 4.41 time in the forty yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. During three seasons in College Park, he tallied 2,281 yards from scrimmage and 20 offensive touchdowns to go with 2,983 return yards and three additional TD’s.

Some scouts thought he had first-round talent, but some questions about his route-running forced him to drop into the second.

The Ravens were grateful to find him there.

“He can peal the top off a defense,” said General Manager Ozzie Newsome. “He brings that added dimension to our pass game. [Quarterback] Joe [Flacco] is a deep-thrower. Joe has the ability to throw the deep ball…he has the arm strength to do it. Now we’re giving Joe an additional weapon and that opens up our passing game.”

Newsome would go on jokingly to label Smith as a “3-point shooter” in the Ravens offense: “At any point if the ball gets in his hands, Billy [Cundiff] is coming out to kick an extra point.”

The deep-ball was sorely missing from the Ravens offense last year. The team had just seven passing plays of 40-plus yards-Mason led the team with two-during 16 regular season games and then recorded none in the postseason.

After finding out his football future would lead him up the road to Charm City, Smith told reporters he knew his character would help his transition.

“I knew the way I am as a person…the way I play fit the way they do things up there,” he said.

As much as the Ravens will benefit from the addition of Smith on the field, they will absolutely benefit from the addition of a man like Torrey Smith in their locker room as well.

Former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen said of Smith in the Post story, “God created a perfect person.”

The Ravens might settle for a good guy. And a really good receiver.

RAVENS DEAL FOR ANOTHER “REID”
: The Ravens dealt their third round pick (90th overall) and one of two sixth round picks (191st overall) to the Philadelphia Eagles to move up five spots and select Central Florida OT Jah Reid in the 3rd round (85th overall).

Jah Reid

Reid (6’7″, 327 pounds) was described by Newsome as a “fast-riser” on the Ravens draft board following his performance at this year’s East-West Shrine Game in Orlando.

The Ravens will start the 2010 first-team All-Conference-USA selection at RT, where he will find a bit of a crowd. Jared Gaither missed all of 2010 with a back injury and could reach free agency depending on the resolution of the CBA-dispute between the league and the NFLPA.

Marshal Yanda is a restricted free agent (expected to return) who performed admirably filling in for Gaither but Harbaugh has said the team would prefer to move him back to his more natural right guard position.

Oniel Cousins and Tony Moll have not shown themselves as viable options to play significantly. 2010 6th-round pick Ramon Harewood also missed the entire season needing surgery on both knees.

When asked what the Ravens liked about Reid, Harbaugh said: “he is long, he is powerful and he can bend.”

NOTES: The Ravens will receive no compensation from the National Football League or the Chicago Bears following a miscue during the attempt of a first-round trade. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported NFL commissioner Roger Goodell “encouraged” the Bears to give the Ravens a 4th round pick, but the Bears chose not to do so……The Ravens are scheduled to introduce Jimmy Smith and Torrey Smith to reporters at an 11am press conference Saturday at 1 Winning Drive……The Ravens are slated to make five picks on Saturday. They currently hold one fourth round pick (123rd overall), two compensatory fifth round picks (164th and 165th overall), one sixth round pick (180th overall, acquired from the St. Louis Rams in last year’s Mark Clayton deal) and one seventh round pick (225th overall, acquired from the Eagles in last year’s Antwan Barnes deal)……Hear from Newsome, Harbaugh, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and Torrey Smith now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net

-G

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Despite recent coaching departures-including most recently Don Brown-Terps football coach Edsall pleased with first Signing Day

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Despite recent coaching departures-including most recently Don Brown-Terps football coach Edsall pleased with first Signing Day

Posted on 08 February 2011 by Ryan Chell

Last week, high school Signing Day for the most part was pushed under the rug because of all the hype leading up to Super Bowl XLV.

But one person hard at work in the few short weeks he has been at the helm of the Terps has been new football coach Randy Edsall.

Edsall’s recruiting class was also pushed under the rug due to the fact that the “experts” didn’t give the first-year Terps coach much credit for what he brought to College Park.

Edsall-hired as the new football coach of Maryland in the coming days before coaches were allowed to hit the recruiting trail back in January-had a shorter time to work with than most coaches implementing his own recruiting plan following the firing of  Ralph Friedgen.

Edsall joined Thyrl Nelson of “The Mobtown Sports Beat” to discuss his results from last week’s Signing Day, and with the National Letters of Intent still finding his way to his desk as of Monday, he is pleased with the results and likes the way the team will be shaping up for the 2011 season.

And despite the recent departures of some of Friedgen’s former assistants-guys like James Franklin(who left to become the head football coach at Vanderbilt)-and defensive coordinator Don Brown-who just this past week announced that he will take the same position at Edsall’s old stomping grounds at UConn-the recruits still saw College Park as the place to be.

“It’s been a situation where we were able to maintain most of the guys who were committed here previous to my arrival,” Edsall told Nelson. “And we were able to get three or four guys where we had spots that needed to get done.”

Ralph Friedgen in his decade-long run at Maryland was always good at recruiting the best of athletes to become Terps-guys like Vernon Davis, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Shawne Merriman, and Torrey Smith-and Edsall said that his first recruiting class at Maryland hasn’t missed that beat either.

“You know, being able to maintain the speed and athleticism that we had on the defensive side and I thought we got three quality receivers so overall I was pleased with the work and the final tally of these twenty-one recruits.”

The recruit that has jumped off the charts-or at least highlights the receivers Edsall signed-is Parkwood High School (North Carolina) wide receiver Marcus Leak, the 44th ranked wide receiver prospect in the country.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlAAdkXwRnU[/youtube]

Leak is along the same lines of a Torrey Smith, and has shown on the prep level to have adequate speed and impressive size and bulk.

He is also expected to be a force in the return game when he suits up for Edsall on the field.

Receivers coach Lee Hull was one of a handful Friedgen assistants to remain on Edsall’s staff, and Hull will no doubt have an impact on the grooming of Leak to help him hit the field quicker and perform better when he does hit Byrd Stadium.

Another prospect catching attention and praise from Edsall and others is Hoschtown, Georgia native Tyler Cierski, a protypical fullback at 6’1, 240 pounds.

Tyler Cierski

Cierski was rated as the #2 fullback in the nation according to ESPN.com, and his signing could be attention to the fact that Edsall is going to commit his teams to running the football effectively and not relying entirely on the shoulders of his ACC Rookie of the Year QB Danny O’Brien.

Cierski could eventually be blocking for the recruit who signed late as of Monday- #26th ranked running back Justus Pickett out Ardrey Kell High School in North Carolina.

Justus Pickett

Pickett had several other schools on his list, including West Virginia, Arkansas, Duke, Wake Forest, and Ball State.

The 5’10, 166-pound running back is said to have 4.3-4.6 speed and has drawn some comparisons to Mountaineers running back Noel Devine.

On the defensive side of the ball, defensive coordinator Don Brown was expected to remain with Edsall and run that side of the ball, but he recently announced that he was taking his services up to UConn to run new coach Paul Pasqualoni’s defense.

Brown said the move was based on being closer to his family in the New England area, and the former UMass head coach will be going home apparently.

That leaves Edsall with a hole in his coaching lineup at defensive coordinator, but whoever picks up the headset there will have some toys to play with in the coming years.

Quinton Jefferson

Three-star defensive end recruit Quinton Jefferson (Woodland Hills, Pittsburgh)-who had received offers from Iowa, Cincinnati, WVU, Pittsburgh, and Wisconsin-could either be that dominant pass rusher in the next few years for the Terps on the line or if Edsall remains confident in the 3-4 as his defense, Jefferson might be the next Shawne Merriman.

Cole Farrand-a three-star linebacker/tight end out of Sparta, NJ/Pope John-could see himself at either position for Edsall in the coming years.

ESPN has him ranked as the #25th ranked OLB in the prep nation.

You can also add to the mix at the linebacking corps Maryland’s own Alex Twine-out of Quince Orchard High School.

Twine may make an immediate impact on special teams and has already has impressed the coaching staff with his sure tackling ability.

The wild card in the defensive recruits Edsall mentioned may be defensive tackle Keith Bowers out of Dwyer High School in Palm Springs, Florida.

Bowers already weighs in at 6’1, 250 pounds, and he could be that force in the middle for Edsall’s defense.

But while that remains to be seen-as well as the rest of this recruiting class-just as it is in the transition from college to the NFL, some of these guys may not pan out.

“You never know how someone will turn out until you’re four or five years down the road,” Edsall noted. “I just worry about what we do as an evaluation as coaches.”

Maryland’s recruiting class was rated ninth out of the 12 ACC schools, with only Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, and N.C. State trailing the Terps according to ESPN.com.

Edall however doesn’t believe in all that rankings and star-systems when it comes to recruiting college athletes. He just wants guys who he knows can play the game of football and do it well enough to his standards.

“I don’t put any credence in the star system,” he said. “What we’re looking for is how they’re going to fit into the schemes we play and do they fit in academically…socially…with their work ethic, and character wise. Those are the decisions we have to make…all those other things are just there to make money for fans to buy into.”

But what Edsall does know that these 21 guys are committed to the University of Maryland 100%, and they’ve already taken that first step in proving so by signing their letters of intent and getting to work.

“It’s so refreshing,” Edsall said,” because you’re teaching these kids about commitment and what commitment means.”

WNST has you covered talking Baltimore sports!

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Draft Season Takes Odd Detour to San Antonio

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Draft Season Takes Odd Detour to San Antonio

Posted on 05 February 2011 by Glenn Clark

This one might be the toughest one yet.

After big weeks in Orlando and Mobile, there’s still another All-Star Game for National Football League hopefuls to make a statement at the start of NFL Draft season.

The NFLPA Game is Saturday in San Antonio, Texas (2pm-CBS College Sports) at the Alomodome. You’ll remember the game previously being known as the “Texas vs. The Nation” game. Well, you MIGHT remember the game previously being known as that.

The game will still keep the “Team Texas” vs. “Team USA format”, but the Draft showcase surrounding the game is significantly more important than the game itself.

This one isn’t quite at the level of the other All-Star Games, but it’s just as important for the players involved. These players are mostly guys who are currently on the outside l

Before I continue to with NFLGA Game player profiles, I remind you of the East West Shrine Game players we have already profiled, as well as the Senior Bowl prospects we have already profiled.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (UConn)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple)

The only player movement for the Baltimore Ravens since our last post has been the re-signing of Punter Sam Koch, so my team needs remain the same…

1. Defensive End
2. Offensive Tackle
3. Wide Receiver
4. Cornerback
5. Fullback
6. Inside Linebacker
7. Safety
8. Center
9. Running Back
10. Quarterback

Here’s a look at 10 players to keep an eye on during the NFLPA Game…

QB Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania)

portis

Yep. Same guy.

After a six year NCAA career that saw him frustrate Gators fans in Gainesville and Terrapins fans in College Park before finally settling in with the Vulcans, Portis is suddenly now thought of as a potential NFL player.

There’s good reason for it.

Portis completed 205 of his 335 passing attempts in 2010, tossing 33 touchdowns and throwing just seven interceptions along the way. He threw for 6,072 yards combined over his junior and senior seasons.

And despite how many times his design run plays went wrong at Byrd Stadium, Portis is still just as dangerous with his feet.

Portis has the look of a QB. He’s 6’4″, 208 pounds, fast and is the cousin of outstanding Washington Redskins RB Clinton Portis. He received an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, where he’ll have the chance to make a further impact for NFL personnel. His California coach was Dwain Painter-who coached NFL quarterbacks for some 20 years.

He’s taking the draft process seriously, having opened JoshPortis.com to help gain a more significant profile.

Fans in the Old Line State have a bitter taste about him because things didn’t work out for Portis in James Franklin’s offense. That doesn’t necessarily mean he was a bad quarterback. His numbers clearly reflect the fact that he played at the D2 level, but there’s still a chance he could be a late round option in Charm City as they try to stabilize the position behind Joe Flacco.

QB Taylor Potts (Texas Tech)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRYaO56e9hU[/youtube]

The great thing about Taylor Potts is that he’s the first Red Raiders quarterback in a number of years whose big numbers can’t immediately be dismissed by saying something along the lines of “that’s just because he played in a Mike Leach offense.”

That being said, the numbers for Potts were still prolific after Tommy Tubberville replaced Leach. Between his junior and senior seasons, Potts threw for 7,166 yards, tossing 57 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. Unlike the QB who came to Lubbock before him (Graham Harrell), Potts didn’t have the pleasure of throwing the ball to now San Francisco 49ers WR Michael Crabtree.

Harrell (and fellow former TTU QB’s Kliff Kingsbury & Sonny Cumbie) haven’t exactly built a pipeline from Lubbock to the NFL. Potts is the first quarterback to come after the Leach era. Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome will have to determine if that makes him worth taking a late round (or free agent) shot on to complement Flacco.

WR Denarius Moore (Tennessee)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AinMXfB3fyM[/youtube]

Moore is going to run one of the most important 40 yard dashes this year at LucasOil Stadium.

If he slides under 4.40, he’ll give himself a great opportunity to be a high pick. If he can’t get under 4.40; folks like Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz will have to wonder if he’s really capable of addressing a speed receiver need.

Moore had an outstanding senior season for the Volunteers, catching 47 balls for 981 yards and nine touchdowns. He finished his career in Knoxville with a very respectable 112 catches for 2,004 yards and 18 TD’s.

But he HAS to be the speed guy. At 6’0″-6’1″, 191 pounds-if he can’t stretch the field he wouldn’t separate himself from Derrick Mason or Anquan Boldin. The problem is that if he does-the former Vols star probably won’t be around on Saturday when the Ravens might like to pick him.

DE Eddie Jones (Texas)

eddiejones

Until his senior season, Jones had not exactly proved to anyone outside of Austin that he was capable of generating a QB rush from the edge.

But in 2010, Jones was able to tally six sacks (and a forced fumble) for a Longhorns squad that underperformed greatly.

Jones will have to use the stop in San An and other stops during Draft season to show that he is still developing as a rusher. If he does, a team like the Ravens could very well choose to snap him up late in the Draft.

At 6’2″ and 258 pounds he’ll have to bulk up a bit, but the team won’t want to see him lose speed in the process. My guess is that the team wouldn’t select Jones with the idea that he’ll be the primary rusher-but he could team with Paul Kruger to give them depth behind a higher pick or a free agent addition.

S Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette)

morolle

I know what you’re wondering and the answer is “no.”

Despite playing in the defensive backfield and having the last name “Rolle”, Maurice Rolle is not related to either former Ravens CB Samari Rolle or Tennessee Titans S Myron Rolle.

Rolle started to develop a bit of a nose for the football over his last two seasons with the Ragin Cajuns. He collected four interceptions but battled some leg injury issues, which cut his 2010 season short.

Rolle isn’t a likely draft pick as of this moment, but he’s the type of player that can work that way with a good trip to Indy. His size (6’1″, 197 pounds) gives him the look of a NFL player, he just has to prove to folks (like Ravens Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta) that he can make a transition from Sun Belt Conference to NFL.

C Zane Taylor (Utah)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9o5s1o9IgDE[/youtube]

As the Ravens look for a center of the future behind Matt Birk, Taylor is certainly going to be a viable option.

Taylor is 6’3″ and 313 pounds but battled some minor knee injuries in 2010. In 2010 he also helped lead the way for a Utes rushing attack that tallied nearly 2,000 yards.

Plus…he’s STRONG. According to the team’s official website, he can bench 440 pounds and squat 565 pounds. Impressive, yes.

The Ravens aren’t likely to go center early in this draft, but they might think about Taylor as the Draft moves toward Saturday.

RB Damien Berry (Miami)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpFtJQsYK5o[/youtube]

Statistically, Berry’s 2010 campaign for the Hurricanes was not all that impressive.

He finished with just 899 yards and 5 touchdowns; although he did average 4.7 yards per carry and managed four games of 100 yards or more.

NFL personnel folks are going to really have to look at the hard running ability of Berry to determine where he might fit in during the Draft process.

He has decent size (6’0″, 215 pounds) and has the look/feel of a back who can take a bunch of handoffs. In fact, he had 15 or more carries in nine of 12 games for the ‘Canes in 2010. Berry should be a hit during the interview process in Indy, as he was voted as the team’s “Good Guy” by Miami media during his senior year.

Berry has the feel of a back who could be a sleeper on Saturday. The Ravens have to make a decision regarding fellow former ‘Cane Willis McGahee; and Berry might be the exact type of back who could complement Ray Rice in a positive way.

WR Owen Spencer (North Carolina State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pch-yYmCy98[/youtube]

One of the most under-the-radar screen receivers on the board in 2011, Spencer has the opportunity to wow personnel folks over the next few months.

Spencer never really posted explosive numbers during his four years in Raleigh, but he was nothing if not solid. Between his junior and senior seasons with the Wolfpack, Spencer caught 90 balls for 1,677 yards and 10 TD’s, including the goofy deflection of a Russell Wilson desperate heave seen above.

Wilson has size (6’3″, 191 pounds) but could use a little more speed (he’s expected to post a 40 time in the 4.5 range at the Combine) if he’s going to be counted on to extend the field for a team like the Ravens. He was certainly capable of posting big plays for NC State, averaging 22.3 yards per catch in ’08, 25.5 yards per catch in ’09 and 15.2 yards per catch in ’10.

With TJ Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth serious question marks to return, a player like Spencer could be the exact addition the Ravens need. But Spencer has a lot of work to do between now and the last weekend of April to prove he’s a solid option.

WR Jock Sanders (West Virginia)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPmgqklGM7A[/youtube]

If nothing else, the former Mountaineers standout might very well have the best name in the NFL Draft.

Sanders’ size (5’7″, 179 pounds) is an issue. His athleticism is not. He’ll be expected to post a very quick time in the 40 at the Combine/and or his own Pro Timing Day in Morgantown. He’ll also be expected to be involved in the return game no matter where he ends up being selected.

He’s absolutely an athlete, having also lettered in basketball at St. Petersburg Catholic High School in Florida. The question now is whether or not he’s really a football player-particularly at the NFL level.

He can certainly stretch the field; but his size will mean he absolutely HAS to be behind defensive backs to be able to make plays. If he ends up in one on one battles with defenders, he’s going to lose. That’s problematic for teams like the Ravens who don’t want to risk turnovers.

He’ll stick around later into the draft; maybe even after that. At some point, he’ll be a player the Ravens will at least want to consider.

LB Adrian Moten (Maryland)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMT7Bdm1Kpg[/youtube]

He might not be a natural rush backer, but Moten certainly showed the ability at times (despite battling wrist injuries) to get to the quarterback. During four seasons under Ralph Friedgen, Moten tallied 15 sacks.

Not only did he show an ability to pressure QB’s, Moten also finished his four year career with 205 tackles, two forced fumbles and six interceptions-including four in his senior campaign.

Moten is a player who will be available late in the draft and could fit a need for the Ravens if any of their current restricted free agent LB’s depart this offseason. He has good size (6’2″, 230 pounds); but would benefit well from shaving his 40 time under 4.6.

He’s no slam dunk to get picked, but the former Terp could well be an option for Baltimore.

Thanks to WNST.net (The AP), NFLDraftScout.com/CBSSports.com, Wikipedia, YouTube and various official Athletic sites for helping us put together the profiles

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Ex-Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen reflects on time in College Park; “really wanted an extension”

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Ex-Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen reflects on time in College Park; “really wanted an extension”

Posted on 20 January 2011 by Ryan Chell

Ralph Friedgen

Ralph Friedgen had a long ten-year run at the University of Maryland as their head coach, and during his decade-long term in College Park, he turned around a program that been on life support when it came to the football team.

Friedgen was 75-50 in those ten seasons and 5-2 during his time at Maryland in bowl games. His first year as coach for the Terps earned him ACC Coach of the Year and an outright ACC Title, the first outright ACC Championship other than Florida State since the Seminoles joined the ACC.

Nine years later later in 2010, Friedgen’s Terps finished 8-4 in the ACC and were in the hunt for another elusive ACC Title yet again-one year removed from a 2-10 campaign.

Friedgen did earn another ACC Coach of the Year award to add to his trophy case for the turnaround, but sadly with new administration in place behind the scenes at College Park wanting higher expectations out of the football program, the Maryland alum was shown the door by athletic director Kevin Anderson and replaced by ex-UConn coach Randy Edsall.

Friedgen was shocked to hear the news when word came down, because in a flash he went from talking about an extension to being ushered out of coaching for his alma mater.

Friedgen joined Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” this week to not only draw out what went wrong, but to reflect on his time coaching hundreds of kids at College Park.

“To me, I really wanted an extension,” Friedgen told Forrester. “I really wanted to stay with these kids. I’ve been through the tough times with them, and we were really starting to get on a roll and really starting to gain confidence and grow.”

Friedgen said that going from the two-win season in 2009 to the eight-win plateau in 2010 put a smile back on his face, hope in his approach, as well as rejuvenating his players. His spirit was re-newed, and then in a flash to be relieved of his duties came as quite the letdown.

“It was really one of the most rewarding times of my career, and when he[AD Kevin Anderson] wasn’t willing to give me an extension even after we had won the seven games and we only had to win one more game to go to Charlotte and play for the championship…it seemed like a forgone conclusion to me.”

Friedgen felt like his resume at the University of Maryland should have granted him the benefit of the doubt.

In the ten years before Friedgen took over in 2001, the Terps had only had one winning season and no bowl games.

Friedgen has a .600 winning percentage as coach of the Terps. He went to seven bowl games in ten years, and won eight or more games six times.

“I mean, if you’re looking at the whole body of work, there’s only been 14 teams in 117 years of Maryland football that won nine games or more, and I did it five times,” Friedgen said, “and been to more bowl games than any coach in the history of Maryland. I won five of those games, and when I got here it wasn’t quite that way.”

“I ended up 75-50… I think that’s a good job. So, if we’re looking at the whole body of work, I think that’s what you have to take a look at.”

But Friedgen’s record alone may have not have the determining factor in his dismissal. AD Kevin Anderson and many other experts out there noted the drop in ticket sales, attendance, and the need to energize the fanbase.

Friedgen felt like that wasn’t fair to lump those issues on him.

“When I got there, we were only selling 10,000 season tickets and now we are averaging 20,000,” Friedgen told Forrester. “I think the worst crowd we had this year was 30,000, and we were coming off a bad season, and we had built that up. If you looked at that record, I think of the top 20 largest crowds at Byrd Stadium, probably 15 came during my tenure.”

Friedgen said the economy hit the College Park area badly, and he thinks that even with a younger, enthusiastic coach in Randy Edsall coming in, it’s still going to take some time to get butts back in the seats.

“The economy’s bad too,” Friedgen noted. “If you go to Clemson, West Virginia…there are empty seats. A lot of these places are not selling out. It’s a tough time right now. The Redskins fans used to have to wait to get tickets, now you can buy them. It’s just a tough economy.”

Friedgen was asked what he thinks Maryland needs to fix their issues, and now he felt like he could offer a fair perspective on how to solve some of the problems at College Park.

But Friedgen didn’t answer Forrester’s question because he still had respect for a lot of people still in the administration at Maryland.

“I’m not going to answer because I don’t want it to be sour grapes,” Friedgen said. “I know Randy Edsall. I think he’s a good person for the job and I think he’s a lot like me. I think we have the same high standards for our kids, and the biggest thing that helped me is I went to Maryland. I coached there in the 1980′s, and I kind of knew what it was all about. But it’s definitely different than other places, that’s all I’m going to say.”

But now, Friedgen doesn’t have to worry about those things. Right now, he is taking some much needed time off, and enjoying every minute of it despite the sorrow of losing his “dream job”.

And he is eagerly awaiting his next one.

“Right now, I’m chilling as the kids say-moving a lot of stuff from my house in Maryland to my homes in South Carolina and in Georgia. I’ve had a couple opportunites [come my way]. If something excites me and if I think I can make a difference, then I probably will go back to work. If not, I’ll just wait for that opportunity.”

WNST thanks Ralph Friedgen for joining us and wishes him the best in his future endeavors! Be sure to follow WNST as We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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New Maryland coach Randy Edsall: “What we’re doing is we’re not building a team. We’re building a program”

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New Maryland coach Randy Edsall: “What we’re doing is we’re not building a team. We’re building a program”

Posted on 13 January 2011 by Ryan Chell

Randy Edsall had a plan in place when he came to the University of Conneticut being named the head football coach of the Huskies in 1998.

He helped build a struggling, 1-AA program with no fan or school support under it from the ground up to a Big East contender that made four straight bowl appearances, including this year’s BCS Fiesta Bowl.

Randy Edsall

The University of Maryland recently hired Edsall-a two-time Big East co-champ and 2010 Big East Coach of the Year- to work that same magic on their program, and he joined Thyrl Nelson of the “Mobtown Sports Beat” Wednesday to introduce not only himself to the Terps faithful but to also indiciate his plans for the Maryland football program.

“It’s all about the plan we have in place,” Edsall said. “We just stuck to it and did what we felt was necessary.”

Edsall was hired by AD Kevin Anderson and Maryland President Dr. Wallace Loh to re-energize a displaced Terps fanbase and get the program back to national prominence, and he sees a similar approach on how to fix this situation placed in his hands based on what he did in the Big East with UConn.

“Just like coming here, I have a plan in place on what I want to accomplish, and how we’re going to go about doing that,” Edsall said. “What we’re going to do is build around teammwork.”

Edsall took the job on Janurary 2nd, 2011 to replace Maryland alum Ralph Friedgen as the next football coach of the Maryland Terrapins following Friedgen’s dismissal before the school’s 51-20 victory over ECU in the Military Bowl.

He was hired at that date to get he and his staff in place ready for recruiting and to prepare for the 2011 college football season. So far, his job has been as hectic as can be, and he has fit right into the grind of making the Terps important again the same way he made UConn football relevant for the first time.

“It’s been very hectic,” Edsall told Nelson. “There’s not enough hours in the day, but you just prioritize yourself on the things you need to do…and right now, it’s the recruiting and the finalization of the coaching staff.”

The biggest news so far with the coaching staff has been Edsall retaining Maryland defensive coordinator Don Brown and today reports indicated that LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton will be leaving the Tigers to become Edsall’s OC.

“We want to be aggressive in everything we do,” Edsall commented. “We especially want to be aggressive on defense and I’ve retained Don Brown and so the defense is really going to be the same. And offensively what we want to do is attack the field vertically and horizontally.”

Edsall in his twelve years coaching at the UConn compiled a 74-70 overall record, and that might have Terps fans scratching their heads. Why hire a coach with that record as opposed to Mike Leach, who was 84-43 in ten seasons at Texas Tech?

Edsall may have fit more into what the school’s administration was looking for when it came to getting a program known more for its other athletic teams on everybody’s radar.

“It was a vision that I had to have,” Edsall replied, “because of the fact that no one had a Division-1 mentality when it came to the University of Connecticut.”

Edsall’s Huskies were the first squad to make the successful transition from FCS to FBS. And while they struggled at first going 15-30 over his first four seasons on the UConn sideline, since 2003 his teams have 59-40 and appeared in five bowl games.

“Then in each year, you keep ramping it up. What we did was build a porgram that would stand the test of time and I think that’s important in anything that you do.”

Maryland AD Kevin Anderson said many times in various statements and press conferences that they wanted a guy who was enthusiastic about the job and fully committed to the University of Maryland.

And Anderson said that while Leach may have the better football resume, Edsall showed more passion in his interview than Mike Leach, and you can trace that devotion all the way back to Edsall’s childhood.

“I’m originally 70 miles from here above the border in Pennslyvania off Interstate 83,” Edsall said, a native of Glen Rock. “I came to my first football game here and went to camp here and really this is home to me.”

And the other thing that may have won the job for Edsall?

He says he’s here to stay as long as Maryland will have him, unlike Leach who was widely expected to just use Maryland as a stepping stone to another school in a bigger football conference.

“At my 52 years, I want this to be my last stop of the train,” Edsall said.

But the critics out there will say that UConn was supposed to be his last stop on the train as well. Edsall explained to Nelson that he understands why the Huskies faithful may dissaprove of his decision to leave and how he did it, but he said that he did his best to wish those in Connecticut for giving him his break and standing behind what he was trying to do.

“You know anytime you leave someplace, it might not be the best timing or what transpires,” Edsall said. “You do what you think is best, and there really wasn’t an opportunity for me to address the whole team.”

Edsall said everything happened so fast after Oklahoma’s victory over his team in the Fiesta Bowl, and everything was a blur to him.

“I didn’t know anything when we were in Arizona. I didn’t find out until Sunday night. I wasn’t offered anything until Sunday night. Only half the team left on the charter, while the other half dispersed from Phoenix on their own going home, so there was never going to be a time where you could do it”

“I thought I did the best thing I thought I could do, so I got on a conference call, and got them on there to try and explain to them my feelings, and explain why I took the job. That was the only way I could do it. I don’t apologize for it because I did what I felt was the best thing for the circumstances that took place…and when certain things happen you do what you think you can do best, and that’s what I tried to do.”

And right now, Edsall is really looking forward to getting to know his new group of young men that he’s going to work with to rebuild the football program at College Park.

“This is an eager group,” Edsall said. “The young men I’ve already talked to are ready to go, and like I said once we get recruiting finished, I look forward to really spending as much time as NCAA rules allow us to with our team.”

And Edsall sees even more out of the Maryland fan base being just as hungry to watch them play. And he guarantees that the plan he has in place is going to bring College Park not just a good team, but a program that will stand for the many decades he hopes to be tracking the sidelines for the Terps.

“As long as you lay that foundation and you nurture that foundation, you can build it and it’s got to be strong as it goes up. What we’re doing is we’re not building a team . We’re building a program. A team is year-to-year. A program goes in decades. It goes a lot longer, and that’s really what you want to do.”

WNST has all your Terps news covered! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Here’s My Hall of Fame Suggestion: Take Steroid Era Out of Writers’ Hands

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Here’s My Hall of Fame Suggestion: Take Steroid Era Out of Writers’ Hands

Posted on 07 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

What a wild week.

The Ravens are preparing for an AFC Wild Card playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

Maryland football introduced former UConn coach Randy Edsall as Ralph Friedgen’s replacement after a very public flirtation with former Texas Tech Head Coach Mike Leach.

The Orioles (very unfortunately and tragically) saw pitcher Alfredo Simon turn himself into police as the main suspect in a Dominican Republic murder. This of course overshadowed their signing of reliever Kevin Gregg.

On top of that, we’re in the middle of BCS football games, the Washington Capitals won the NHL Winter Classic last Saturday night, and the Terps get their first crack at Duke this season Sunday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

In the sports media business, this is the type of week we love, as we spend much of the year looking for topics and storylines to write about and discuss.

Yet somehow this week, I’ve found myself captivated by the discussion surrounding the announcement of the 2011 induction class for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Much of my interest has to do with my personal affection for Roberto Alomar (the greatest Oriole I’ve been able to see play in my lifetime), but more of it has to do with my interest in the process itself.

nytimes
(Photo courtesy: New York Times)

Former Houston Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell was up for induction for the first time this year. As someone whose height of baseball fandom (I’ve never hidden from the fact that I’m no longer a “baseball guy” at this point in my life) coincided with the peak of Bagwell’s career, there was no doubt in my mind that Bagwell was deserving of induction to the Hall of Fame.

He didn’t have the “can’t miss” numbers (2,314 hits and 449 home runs); but he was clearly amongst the dominant players of his era at his position (four time All-Star, six times a Top 10 finisher in National League MVP voting).

I couldn’t imagine Jeff Bagwell NOT being considered a Hall of Famer.

Yet when Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) voters made their decision, only 41.7% of them agreed with me; more than 30% less than the 75% needed for election.

Jeff Bagwell never tested positive for steroids and no positive link exists whatsoever. Yet the biggest reason Bagwell wasn’t elected remained…steroids.

Here’s what BBWAA voter Dan Graziano (who now writes for Fanhouse) said in his column explaining his decision to NOT vote for Bagwell…

“No, I didn’t vote for Jeff Bagwell for the Hall of Fame. Yes, it’s for the reason everybody loves to hate. I don’t know for sure that Bagwell took steroids or any other performance-enhancing drugs to help him attain his Hall of Fame-caliber numbers. I don’t have evidence, like we do against Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. But I’m suspicious. And this year, that suspicion was enough to make me send back my ballot without the Bagwell box checked. I’d rather withhold the vote based on suspicion than vote the guy in only to find out later that he cheated and I shouldn’t have.

Graziano explained his decision in further detail Wednesday morning during an appearance with Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST.

“I’ve decided not to vote for the steroid guys” said Graziano. “Bagwell we don’t know. He’s not in the Mitchell Report, he hasn’t tested positive like (former Texas Rangers & Orioles slugger Rafael) Palmeiro did. But there’s enough suspicion on my part that I’m holding back. The suspicion in my mind overcomes his credentials for me as someone who doesn’t want to put cheaters in.

“If it turns out that I’m wrong and he was innocent then he has my apology” Graziano added. “There are people (like SI writer) Joe Posnanski and other high profile people that have written about the Hall of Fame that will tell you ‘I’d rather put in 100 cheaters than risk keeping one innocent guy out.’ I feel exactly the opposite. I’d rather risk keeping an innocent guy or two out than put in a single cheater. And if I find out five years from now, 10 years from now that there’s a guy in there I voted for that I shouldn’t have, that would be my bigger regret.”

That tells me just about everything I needed to know about how voting is going to go in the steroid era.

The BBWAA is going to punt.

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Maryland WR Torrey Smith on going pro: “Playing in the NFL was never really a goal of mine”

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Maryland WR Torrey Smith on going pro: “Playing in the NFL was never really a goal of mine”

Posted on 06 January 2011 by Ryan Chell

Torrey Smith

University of Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith announced his decision to go pro following Maryland’s 51-20 victory over East Carolina in the Military Bowl, and wihile his decision to take his skills to the NFL was kind of pushed under the rug because of the coaching change at Maryland, Smith said it doesn’t bother him and he is ready to move on to the next challenge in his football career.

Plus, Smith left behind a pretty good resume playing football not just at Maryland but in the ACC as a whole.

Smith-a three-time first or second-team All-ACC selection-joined Thyrl Nelson of “The Mobtown Sports Beat” Wednesday to discuss his path to the NFL, leaving Maryland after this his junior year.

Smith-who initally in his Terp career solely made his impact as kick returner-put together two great seasons as wideout for Ralph Friedgen’s offense. He excelled this year in Maryland’s 8-4 season at receiver, grabbing 67 passes for 1,055 yards and a school-record 12 TDs.

He increased his production from his 2009 season, when he grabbed 61 balls for 824 yards and five scores. He also had 51 returns for 1,309 yards( a record that he not only set before but then broke) and two scores, and all together his all-purpose yards were  second in the conference only to Clemson’s C.J. Spiller.

Leading the Terps in catches and receiving yards, his total all-purpose yards had him sixth-best in the nation in that category in 2009.

He developed quite a rapport with  quarterback Danny O’Brien in 2010, and that was most notable in Maryland’s 38-31 victory over N.C. State, where he had 14 catches for 224 yards receiving and a school-record four TDs.

That game could be described as the game that put Smith on the map and had the NFL scouts salavating. Some opposing coaches and scouts have said that Smith could be better than his former teammate, Darrius Heyward-Bey, who was drafed seventh-overall by the Oakland Raiders in the 2009 NFL Draft.

He received enough support after the N.C. State victory and Maryland’s bowl game that his NFL Draft status was in good shape, so Smith jumped the gun and made the decision to go pro, signing with super agent Drew Rosenhaus.

“Anything could change,” Smith noted. “But if it was bad, trust me, I’d be back at College Park.”

Smith did say though that playing in the NFL was never a reasonable goal or expectation for him when he first suited up for the Terps. When he came to Maryland, he was there to get his education and football was to to be a supplement to he getting a degree.

“To be honest, playing in the NFL was never really a goal of mine,” he said to Nelson. “When I played as a young kid playing football and basketball in my front yard, you think about it, but it really wasn’t anything I was focused on.”

“And the scholarship to get my degree was the biggest thing, but it really wasn’t till this spring that Coach Friedgen said I had a great chance to play at the next level, and that gave me the confidence.”

It was at that point that his determination took over this season on the football field.

“I’m a person who likes to set goals and I like to reach them. And they told me I had a great shot if I worked hard.”

He also set records that will be hard for others to break down the road for future ACC and Maryland recruits.

He finished his Maryland career as their all-purpose yardage leader, surpassing the 4,960 yard mark set by running back LaMont Jordan. His four TDs in the NC State game were a school record, as were his 12 touchdowns this season. He is also only the second Maryland wide receiver to surpass the 1,000 yard mark in a season.

He also surpassed North Carolina wide receiver Brandon Tate as the conference’s all-time return yardage leader.

And he has had more support behind him than the current Maryland coaching staff.

Former Terps in the NFL right now-guys like Vernon Davis(49ers), Darrius Heyward-Bey(Raiders), and Shawne Merriman(Bills) have been mentoring Smith as well, and Smith said that was the great thing about the football program at College Park. It’s a community that stretches far beyond the Baltimore-Washington area.

“Everyone kind of sticks together around College Park,” Smith explained. “And it gets even better when you’re outside of it.”

So with his decision, many Maryland fans are wondering, especially with the chance that there may not be NFL football next year, when is the next time we’ll see Torrey Smith catching passes on the football field?

“Being that I’m a junior, the next time you guys will see me is at the Combine, because underclassmen can’t go to any of the all-star games,” Smith admitted. “So right now, I’m going to be down here in Miami preparing for the Combine.”

Sometimes leaving as an underclassmen to the NFL can sometimes be seen as selfish and in a negative light in some fans’ eyes, but Maryland fans should respect his decision ultimately based on the fact that he put together three good years at the varsity level for the Terps, he got his diploma, and he said he will still be around supporting Randy Edsall’s Maryland team.

“I’ve definitely been following what’s been going on with the program,” Smith replied. “Just because I’m gone, I’m still a Terp. And those boys look up to me. I love them to death, so definitely I like to know what’s going on.”

And he expects the same out of Randy Edsall as he did with his coach, Ralph Friedgen.

“Everyone’s supportive of the new coach. They all seem to like him. All I know is he inherited a good team and they should expect great things from the Terps next year.”

Tune into WNST and WNST.net as we continue to follow the Terps and all your Baltimore sports teams! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Shawne “Lights Out” Merriman-in town for coat drive-hopes his career and Maryland can be turned back on

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Shawne “Lights Out” Merriman-in town for coat drive-hopes his career and Maryland can be turned back on

Posted on 06 January 2011 by Ryan Chell

Shawne Merriman

Former Maryland linebacker Shawne Meriman was present Tuesday night’s Terps basketball game, a 95-40 victory over Colgate, for his annual coat drive, but before that time he also spent a few minutes with Thyrl Nelson of “The Mobtown Sports Beat” to reflect on his alma mater’s recent coaching change with the firing of Ralph Friedgen and the hiring of former UConn coach Randy Edsall.

“You know, I’m excited because it’s a step in the right direction,” Merriman said. “I went to a couple of good bowl games when I was in school and there is a lot of talent in the Maryland-D.C area. It’s really important that we embrace a coach who can keep that talent here. So hopefully, we made a step in the right direction.”

Shawne Merriman spent three seasons in College Park as hybrid defensive-end/linebacker in Ralph Friedgen’s defense. The Upper Marlboro native out of Frederick Douglas High School made an immediate impact with the Terps his freshman year in 2003, when he thrived as a situational pass rusher, earning five sacks-third best on the team.

His biggest year and what put Merriman on the map was his performance on the field in 2004, when he became a full-time starter for Maryland, earning 85 tackles and 8.5 sacks. That, along with his exceptional physical skills and his reputation as a “gym rat” earned him the 12th pick in the 2005 Draft by the San Diego Chargers.

Ultimately, he said that the University of Maryland was a big part of his success in eventually getting to the NFL, and while some may disagree with the departure of his former coach in Friedgen, Merriman said the true spirit of Maryland football will live on in Coach Edsall.

“Just from the teams I played with, there are seven or eight guys who are starting defense or offense on some team right now,” Merriman said. “It’s a bunch of talent that comes out of the school. It’s about time we got recognized for it, so as long as we keep the Terps pride, all will be good.”

Merriman’s success at the college level immediately picked right off at the NFL level for the Chargers, as Merriman earned the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2005 with ten sacks to his credit.

His next year became his ultimate performance of his playing ability, as he sacked the opposing quarterback 17 times while missing four games. He missed out on the Defensive Player of the Year Award to the Dolphins’ Jason Taylor and was behind Broncos CB Champ Bailey, but he did earned his first-ever Pro Bowl selection on top of being named an All-Pro for the only time in his career.

But it was in that same year in 2006 that Merriman tested positive for steroids, which ultimately led to a rule or principle known solely as “The Merriman Rule” where a player found to have used steroids during a season is not eligible for postseason awards or Pro Bowl status.

Those four games he missed that year? A suspension handed down by the NFL Office.

In 2007, he fought through numerous double-teams to register his third straight 10+ sack season, but that is where the Merriman-once known as “Lights Out“-began to flicker off.

He began to suffer greatly from injuries to his shoulder, knees, and feet and he missed significant time due to the injuries.

Over the last three seasons from 2008-2010, he has appeared in only 17 total games while registering only four total sacks.

And off the field trouble began to crop up yet again for Merriman, as a domestic abuse charge against his reality star friend, Tila Tequila, caught Merriman in another negative light.

It was all those things adding up: the steroid allegations, the lack of production on the field, not being ON the field, and the unwanted media attention that convinced the Chargers to wash their hands of him earlier this season, placing him on waivers.

At the time, talks of Merriman to the Ravens came swirling up. The Ravens at the time were in the need of help in the pass rushing department and many Ravens fans wanted to bring Merriman to home.

Too bad Buffalo swooped in, signing him to a two-year deal.

And while he didn’t suit up in a single game for the Bills, he does love the new start he is getting the AFC East with the Bills, and hopes that he can re-start the “Lights Out” routine with Buffalo by changing the lightbulb, so to speak.

“I’m happy with the team that claimed me, and I’m happy to be with the Buffalo Bills and go out there and do what I need to do and get us back to being a hell of a team like I know we can.”

Continue to follow WNST for the best sports coverage in town! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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