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HOMECOMING FOOTBALL PREVIEW

GROWING UP IN A HURRY Whitfield thrives amid pressures of school, football and fatherhood

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By Daniel Gallen @danieljtgallen Senior staff writer

s the final whistle blew on the Terrapins football team’s 37-0 win over West Virginia on Sept. 21, Marcus Whitfield looked around Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium for a place to go. ¶ After home wins at Byrd Stadium, the Terps usually run to the student section, jumping over padding and into the embrace of the first row of students. Then they gather in that corner to sing the school victory song. ¶ But the layout at M&T Bank Stadium on this rainy afternoon was different: The student section was in a corner, away from field level. STORY CONTINUED INSIDE


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THE DIAMONDBACK | HOMECOMING FOOTBALL PREVIEW | THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2013

BY THE NUMBERS MARCUS WHITFIELD Outside linebacker, No. 41

6.5 sacks by Whitfield this season

78 yards

lost by opponents on Whitfield’s sacks this season

9.5 tackles

for loss by Whitfield this season

89 yards

lost by opponents on Whitfield’s tackles for loss this season

28 tackles by Whitfield this season

3.0 sacks

by Whitfield in the Terps’ 32-21 win at Connecticut on Sept. 14

3.0 sacks

by Whitfield entering this season

16 punts

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER MARCUS WHITFIELD has taken on a more important role with the Terps as injuries have depleted the depth of the team’s linebacker corps. cover: file photo/the diamondback; file photos/the diamondback

“I THINK EVERYTHING’S IMPORTANT TO HIM … AND WHEN I SAY EVERYTHING, BEING A GOOD TEAMMATE, BEING A GOOD FATHER, BEING A GOOD PERSON, BEING A GOOD FOOTBALL PLAYER, IT’S IMPORTANT TO HIM. I THINK WHEN I FIRST GOT HERE, I THINK HE WANTED TO BE A GOOD PERSON, BUT EVERYTHING AND HOW HE WENT ABOUT HIS BUSINESS WASN’T AS IMPORTANT AS IT IS NOW.” BRIAN STEWART

by Whitfield in high school CONTINUED FROM 1 So Whitfield located his family — including his mother, father and young son — in the first row on the far sideline, sprinted and climbed onto the railing in front of his red-poncho-wearing family members. “They’ve been there since day one,” Whitfield said a week later. “I just went over there [to] stand there and celebrate with them.” In a breakout redshirt senior season, the outside linebacker has emerged as a force on the field. He has 6.5 sacks, which ranks fourth in the ACC and ties for eighth nationally. As injuries have depleted the Terps defense over the past few weeks, Whitfield’s importance has grown, especially with Clemson’s high-powered offense visiting Byrd Stadium Saturday for the Terps’ homecoming game. But while the Germantown native continues his impressive season, there’s much more going for him than his ability to overpower opposing

Terrapins football defensive coordinator offensive linemen and pressure quarterbacks. “The beauty of what I do is to be able to see young people when they first come here and see how innocent or how shy they might be or just to see the ability in them, and then you watch them grow over two to three years, four years and to see how they develop,” coach Randy Edsall said. “Marcus is really one of those kids.”

Whitfield sat in Young Dining Hall at Gossett Football Team House on Sept. 3, the first day of his final semester at this university, surrounded by a throng of reporters, recorders scattered on the table in front of him and video cameras focused on him from all angles. Three days earlier, he had dominated Florida International in the Terps’ season opener, making five tackles and sacking the quarterback 1.5 times in the Terps’ 43-10 win. Edsall presented him with the defensive game ball for his performance.

Whitfield inadvertently thrust Edsall and the Terps into the national spotlight when he said he couldn’t receive the actual game ball because of NCAA rules. The comments led to confusion over the governing body’s byl aws a n d E S P N c o m mentator Keith Olbermann calling Edsall “the worst person in sports.” But Whitfield wasn’t too concerned with whether he would get the game ball — the American studies major will receive it when he graduates in December — or any of the accolades he received that week. T h a t wa s W h i t f i e l d ’s final first day of school, and meanwhile, his 4-year-old son Jeremiah was at his first day of school in a Head Start program half an hour away in Gaithersburg. While Whitfield has gone through his five years with the Terps trying to develop as a football player and find his way onto the field to chase down quarterbacks, he’s also juggled the task of fatherhood.

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“I think everything’s important to him,” defensive coordinator Brian Stewart said in early September. “And when I say everything, being a good teammate, being a good father, being a good person, being a good football player, it’s important to him. I think when I first got here, I think he wanted to be a good person, but everything and how he went about his business wasn’t as important as it is now.” As a fifth-year senior and father, Whitfield recognizes his position of seniority on the team and the experience he brings to a defense brimming with youthful talent. He’s softspoken, so he chooses to lead by example, juggling parts of life that go well beyond the field but still producing and playing at a high level on Saturdays. “Everybody on defense, everyone comes to knock somebody’s face off when they come to college, if you play defense especially,” Whitfield said. “Everybody looks

at me as being a leader; they all know I’m a father, that I have other things to worry about. Everybody basically looks at how the oldest person on the team is going to act.” It’s been like that since Whitfield’s days at Northwest High School in Germantown, where he was a dangerous receiving option at tight end in addition to a devastating pass rusher. He was a Jaguars team captain, but he wasn’t in the middle of huddles making pregame speeches or standing over o p p os i n g q u a r te rba c ks, taunting them after a sack. After a big play, Whitfield would simply walk back to the huddle. “He was a guy who did his job,” former Northwest coach Andrew Fields said. “Kids followed him for that reason, and certainly the talent and exposure helped in that regard. He wasn’t an outwardly spoken or iron fist-type leader. He was more of a guy that just did his job, didn’t correct others by

any stretch of the imagination, but kids followed him because he did his job and did it well.”

When Fields first coached Whitfield, he wasn’t quite sure what to make of the quiet linebacker with the explosive closing speed who regularly made up 5-yard deficits on Division I-caliber running backs and wide receivers. Whitfield had been a solid contributor to the Jaguars, but he hadn’t yet made the next step to major college prospect. He had to compete for playing time and didn’t always see the field. And when he wasn’t on the field, it seemed as if the shy Whitfield was simply going through the motions of being a football player, Fields said. Fields also said the motivation for Whitfield was there, he just didn’t show it outwardly, making it hard for coaches to read what he was CONTINUED ON 3


THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2013 | HOMECOMING football PREVIEW | The Diamondback

3

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER MARCUS WHITFIELD has been a pass-rushing force for the Terps this season. His 6.5 sacks lead the team and are tied for eighth nationally. Coach Randy Edsall has been impressed with his growth and maturation with the Terps. file photos/the diamondback CONTINUED FROM 2 thinking and how he felt. They perceived Whitfield as a “lethargic” player, even though he was still making an impact on the field. “I wouldn’t say it contributes. I would say it definitely translates,” Fields said. “I think it’s kind of the same thing. He’s not an overaggressive kid if he’s just feeling his way through things football-wise. But once he sees that daylight — or in his social life, when he gets to know people — he changes gears.”

In spring 2008, though, Fields noticed something different about Whitfield. Things clicked, and Whitfield started performing at the level Fields expected when he first saw Whitfield’s physical tools. In his senior season at Northwest, Whitfield recorded 39 tackles, nine tackles for loss and six quarterback hurries. Rivals rated him the 89th-best outside linebacker in the country. Fields started contacting more significant football programs about his talented player,

and Whitfield soon chose former coach Ralph Friedgen and the Terps over a group of schools such as West Virginia. “To me, it was just a matter of whether he would get over that hump of what I define as kind of a passive, go-throughthe-motions appearance,” Fields said. “I knew if he got through that, he’s an athletically explosive kid.”

While it took Whitfield some time to make a com-

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plete impact on the field at Northwest, the same was true of the early part of his Terps career. He redshirted during his freshman year in 2009 before suffering a seasonending knee injury on his lone play in the Terps’ second game of the 2010 season. Whitfield played in eight games in 2011, starting the final five of the season at defensive end. He flashed his potential, tying for fourth on the team with 2.5 sacks and went on to play in all 12 games last year. This year, though, things have been different. Whitfield beat out Division II transfer Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil for the starting outside linebacker job

in training camp and sacked opposing quarterbacks 5.5 times in the Terps’ first three games. “When I first got here, he was kind of the little shy guy, didn’t talk a whole lot,” Edsall said. “But now you just see this kid that is emerging into a young man and just has developed a lot more confidence in himself, and he handles himself with a lot more confidence.” Early in the season, Whitfield and Cudjoe-Virgil formed a fearsome pass-rushing duo, ranking first and second nationally in sacks after three games. Though Whitfield won the position battle, Cudjoe-Virgil still found plenty of playing time.

The two players would joke about meeting each other in the backfield and always seemed to be in the right places during the Terps’ 4-0 start. In the team’s 32-21 win at Connecticut on Sept. 14, Whitfield and Cudjoe-Virgil forced an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone for a safety. “Marcus and I, we’ve been pretty good friends since I got here,” Cudjoe-Virgil said in September. “We worked with each other over the summer and stuff. We’re always laughing with each other. I think we’re good friends. He teaches me pass-rush techniques and CONTINUED ON 5

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THE DIAMONDBACK | HOMECOMING football PREVIEW | THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2013

IN OR OUT Who is still in contention for the ACC title about two-thirds of the way through the season? ATLANTIC DIVISION

6-0 4-0 ACC

COASTAL DIVISION

No. 3 FLORIDA STATE — IN

No. 14 VIRGINIA TECH — IN

No E.J. Manuel, no problem. In their past two games, quarterback Jameis Winston and the Seminoles have combined to outscore the then-No. 25 Terps and thenNo. 3 Clemson, 114-14. A home game against No. 7 Miami in two weeks and season finale against rival Florida appear to be the toughest tests standing between Florida State and a potential trip to Pasadena, Calif., for the BCS National Championship. Those games could also prove vital to Winston’s Heisman campaign.

The Hokies have a legitimate chance to win the Coastal Division and reach the ACC title game. The strongpoint once again has been their fifth-ranked scoring defense, allowing only 15 points per game. With nine touchdowns against six interceptions, quarterback Logan Thomas has done just enough on offense. Virginia Tech avoids playing both Clemson and Florida State, so its Nov. 9 game at Miami just might end up deciding who plays in the conference championship.

6-1 3-0 ACC

No. 9 CLEMSON — IN 6-1 4-1 ACC

No. 7 MIAMI — IN

Though Florida State beat the Tigers, 51-14, on Saturday, Clemson remains a legitimate threat for a conference title. Quarterback Tajh Boyd leads a Clemson offense averaging 37 points per game, good for third in the ACC. Defensive end Vic Beasley headlines the defense and leads the nation with nine sacks. Don’t count out the Tigers, who will be looking to get back on track this weekend against the Terps.

6-0 2-0 ACC

WAKE FOREST — OUT 4-3 2-2 ACC

Despite beating the injury-riddled Terps, 34-10, last week to move above .500, the Demon Deacons aren’t likely to contend in the league. A soft schedule has helped Wake Forest thus far, as the Terps are the only team with a winning record Wake has beaten. Florida State and Miami remain on the schedule, but it would be easy for the Demon Deacons to win two more games and gain bowl eligibility.

GEORGIA TECH — OUT 4-3 3-2 ACC

TERPS — OUT 5-2 1-2 ACC

What a difference a few weeks can make. Similar to what happened last season, injuries have decimated the Terps after a promising start. If it were not for Virginia missing a late field goal attempt, the Terps would be winless in the ACC. Now, the Terps, who were ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 three weeks ago, are just hoping to win another game to become bowl-eligible. Their best chance will come in just more than two weeks when they host ACC newcomer Syracuse.

4-2 2-2 ACC

5-2 2-2 ACC

The Orange has struggled to navigate through a tough schedule this season. At 3-4, the team has lost to two then-ranked opponents, Northwestern and Clemson, as well as Penn State and Georgia Tech. And it doesn’t get much easier, with every other Atlantic Division team at .500 or better. Syracuse isn’t likely to finish with a winning record, but that doesn’t mean it should be expected to roll over down the stretch. The Orange has beaten the lesser teams on its slate and are capable of earning two or three more wins.

The Blue Devils are a win away from bowl eligibility and seem poised to attain it for the second straight year. Duke has North Carolina, Wake Forest and N.C. State left on the schedule and should beat at least one of those teams. The Blue Devils will also face Virginia Tech and Miami. Against respectable competition this season, the Blue Devils have crumbled, losing at home to Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh. Expect another win or two from them but not much more.

VIRGINIA — OUT 2-5 0-3 ACC

N.C. STATE — OUT 3-3 0-3 ACC

After starting his career at Rutgers, redshirt senior quarterback Tom Savage has found a home with the Panthers. He has led Pittsburgh to a respectable record and given his team a shot at its sixth consecutive bowl appearance. However, there is not much to suggest that the Panthers, with their inconsistencies on both sides of the ball, can make the jump to the top of the ACC.

DUKE — OUT

The Eagles sit at 1-2 in the ACC, but their losses came against Clemson and Florida State, two top-10 opponents. Running back Andre Williams leads the ACC with 838 rushing yards, though the Eagles are near the bottom of the ACC in many statistical offensive categories. Look for the Eagles to finish in the middle of the ACC pack and have a shot at a bowl game.

SYRACUSE — OUT 3-4 1-2 ACC

The Yellow Jackets responded after a three-game losing streak against stiff competition with a 56-0 rout at Syracuse. Georgia Tech ranks fifth in the nation in rushing yards with more than 300 yards per game but hasn’t had a signature win yet. The Yellow Jackets have two chances left against tough opponents, with games at Clemson and against rival Georgia to finish the season.

PITTSBURGH — OUT

BOSTON COLLEGE — OUT 3-3 1-2 ACC

Miami will enter Saturday with a polished 6-0 record at No. 7. The Hurricanes have beaten respectable competition, such as Florida and Georgia Tech, but the remainder of the season is sink or swim. Their remaining five games after this weekend’s matchup with Wake Forest will pit them against No. 3 Florida State and No. 16 Virginia Tech in consecutive weeks. If they defeat Florida State, they’ll be vaulted into the BCS championship conversation with a couple follow-up wins. Regardless, Miami will play in a bowl game this year.

The Cavaliers haven’t had much success in ACC play this season. They allowed 35 unanswered points to Duke last week after leading 22-0 in their fourth straight loss. With three of their five remaining games against ranked opponents, the Cavaliers will be hard pressed to avoid the worst record in the conference. Running back Kevin Parks has accounted for eight touchdowns over the team’s seven games and is the lone bright spot in what is shaping up to be a dismal season.

NORTH CAROLINA — OUT

The Wolfpack is still looking for its first win in conference play, and it won’t get any easier as they travel to Florida State on Saturday. Bowl eligibility is still possible for the Wolfpack, but it will need to capitalize on some winnable games at the end of the year. It should help that quarterback Brandon Mitchell is expected to return from a broken foot this week, as the Wolfpack could use improved production in the passing game to start contending in the ACC.

1-5 0-3 ACC

—Text by staff writers Ryan Ballairgeon, Kyle Stackpole and Jacob Walker

Despite their 1-5 record, the Tar Heels have played both Virginia Tech and Miami close in their past two games. Their passing attack ranks fifth in the ACC, but their defense has been below average, allowing 30.7 points per game. The Tar Heels have dug themselves a hole midway through the season. However, with a manageable schedule and an experienced quarterback in Bryn Renner, bowl eligibility isn’t completely out of the question.

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THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2013 | HOMECOMING FOOTBALL PREVIEW | The Diamondback

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OUTSIDE LINEBACKER MARCUS WHITFIELD celebrated the fourth birthday of his son, Jeremiah, last month during the Terps’ bye week. Jeremiah sometimes stays with Whitfield and his roommates on the football team in College Park on weekends. of the coaching staff gave Whitfield before the season started. “The coaches expect something from me,” Whitfield said. “They know that you can play, that’s why they put you in that position as a starter. There’s also the person behind you that’s pushing you so you can continue to play the way you have been playing.”

CONTINUED FROM 3 stuff like that. … He’s one of the leaders on our defense. We always try to find someone to talk in practice, and that’s been him.” But Cudjoe-Virgil suffered a season-ending pectoralis injury two weeks ago. Fellow outside linebackers Matt Robinson and Alex Twine have also missed time with shoulder ailments. Inside linebacker L.A. Goree missed Saturday’s loss at Wake Forest. Freshmen, such as Cavon Walker and Yannick Ngakoue, will play an even bigger role down the stretch as the Terps try to make their first bowl game since 2010. So not only does Whitfield’s performance become more valuable to the Terps, but also to a young front seven. It’s the role Edsall, Stewart and the rest

In addition to the responsibilities of rushing the quarterback and helping orchestrate a defense that’s struggled recently, Whitfield still works to find time for Jeremiah, who turned 4 on Sept. 27 during the Terps’ bye week. Jeremiah, still too small to wear a Terps jersey of his own, attends most of Whitfield’s games and spends the night

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with Whitfield and his roommates — inside linebacker Cole Farrand, offensive lineman Stephen Grommer and fullback Tyler Cierski — after games. “He loves everybody on my team,” Whitfield said. “Even though some of them might scare him, they all love him.” Whitfield isn’t sure if Jeremiah has football in his future yet, either. He’ll line up with his hand on the ground and run at people like his father does, but Whitfield said he also enjoys running with the ball. He’ll get the attention of Whitfield or other players before he runs and jumps onto an oversized beanbag chair in Whitfield’s room or gets someone to toss him onto it. “Everybody on the team wants to be his uncle, godfather,” Whitfield said. “So

it feels [like] basically a big family. One hundred four godfathers and uncles.” As he’s gone through his four-plus years of college, Whitfield’s had an additional responsibility most of his teammates don’t. But he’s been able to balance school, football and fatherhood and have success in each. “It gets to a point and time, yeah I’m a father,” Whitfield said. “I guess at that point you got to make a name for yourself. You basically have another mouth to feed. It’s just been a long ride for me basically in college.”

During the Terps’ bye week at the end of September, Whitfield was shopping at a Giant when he noticed a

small boy watching his every move. It was nothing new for Whitfield, who cuts an imposing figure at 6-foot-3, 250 pounds. He knows he stands out off the football field. Soon, the boy’s father approached Whitfield. The 4-year-old wanted to meet a football player. He asked Whitfield what position he played and what it was like to play for the Terps. So Whitfield took a break from his shopping and started talking to the boy. He told him to do well in school and keep practicing so he might get the chance to play in college and beyond. “People notice who you are just because we wear stuff with ‘Maryland,’ and then they ask you questions about what position, give us credit for our doing well, stuff like that,” Whitfield said. “It defi-

file photo/the diamondback

nitely felt good to have one of the younger people come to me and ask me questions.” Edsall’s been quick to praise Whitfield this season, both for his play on the field and his development off of it. Gone is the seemingly passive teenager from Fields’ days at Northwest. Now there is a key player with high aspirations juggling school, fatherhood and football. “These are things that we expected out of Marcus,” Edsall said. Whitfield has impressed his current coach by elevating himself to a new level. So now, Whitfield’s former coach is no longer surprised by anything he does. “Now, it’s not a ‘wow,’” Fields said. “Now, it’s, ‘I told you all.’” dgallendbk@gmail.com

Basketball Preview, featuring everything you COMING NOV. 7: TheneedTerrapins to know about the Terps ahead of the 2013-14 season.

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THE DIAMONDBACK | HOMECOMING FOOTBALL PREVIEW | THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2013

Still going strong Even after 37 years, Terps football games hold allure for these season ticket holders By Daniel Gallen @danieljtgallen Senior staff writer When George and Rhea Snowden got married, troops were just getting back from World War II, and not yet legendary football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant had finished his lone season in College Park. A lot has changed since then. Their son, Jeff, moved from Montgomery County to Washington County to raise his family. Last year, they moved from their Potomac home they’d lived in since 1968 to Asbury Methodist Village in Gaithersburg. But on Aug. 31, Jeff drove down from Hagerstown to pick up his parents in Gaithersburg before heading to College Park for the Terrapins football team’s season opener. For the 37th straight year, 93-year-old George and 89-year-old Rhea were fulfilling their duties as season ticket holders in the Byrd Stadium stands. “It’s wonderful, it’s wonderful,” George said during halftime of the Terps’ 43-10 win over Florida International. “You can stay at home and see it on TV, but it’s nothing like being here. You get the feeling of the atmosphere, the excitement and so forth. That’s what we like about it.” It all started in 1976, when t h e i r d a u g h te r, Me l i ss a Rogers, enrolled at this university. Her parents wanted to stay actively involved in her life as she entered college, about a 30-minute drive from home. So they purchased season tickets, and year after year, the couple would head to seats 17 and 18 of row HH in section 22, located on the 10-yard line in the west side of the stadium. When George, Rhea and Jeff would trek to College Park, Jeff would go sit with his sister and

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George Snowden (left) and his wife, Rhea (right), have been Terps season ticket holders since their daughter enrolled at this university in 1976. her sorority in the student section across the field. Sometimes, the siblings would get their section of the stadium to start waving back and forth with their parents’ section. “They were about the pomp and circumstance,” Jeff said. “They were about the people in the stands, more about the event than the game.” George grew up in footballcrazed Parkersburg, W. Va., on the Ohio border. He played one year of junior varsity football in high school, but the future commercial artist decided to leave any athletic exploits to his older brother and watch the game from the stands with his father, whom he called a “fiend” for football. “I’m an artist, and I let the athletes do the football,” George said. “My brother was a football player. … I stayed in the room and drew pictures.”

The day after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II, George enlisted in the Navy and ended up in Washington working as an artist at the Navy Yard. As was the norm during the time, a family invited George to its home in the city for dinner after church one day, and there he saw a photograph of Rhea sitting on the family’s piano. He a s ke d t h e fa m i ly members if they would introduce him to her. They started dating, and a year and a half later, they were married. The couple stayed in the area, where Rhea taught Spanish to soldiers coming back from World War II under the GI Bill and George continued to work as an artist. He worked on an annual display of currency from around the world for the International

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Monetary Fund. And, Jeff said, he became known as the “king of the airbrush” in Washington. Shortly after George H.W. Bush’s presidential portrait was taken, Jeff said, the photographer — who was one of George’s colleagues — noticed the pinstripes on the president’s suit jacket and pants didn’t match up. It would be too difficult to carve out time in the president’s schedule to have him sit for another portrait. So George retouched the pinstripes on the pants to match the jacket. “That kind of shows, I think, how successful he was and what kind of reputation he had, what he could do,” Jeff said. At the same time, George and Rhea were attending Terps games at Byrd Stadium year after year. From their seats in section 22, and now from the handicap seating above section 28, they’ve seen seven

photo courtesy of melissa rogers

coaches patrol the Terps sideline, 17 winning seasons and a host of players come and go. More than entertainment, though, attending Terps games allowed George and Rhea to forge new friendships and bonds with their children and the people sitting around them. “They enjoyed it,” Melissa said. “Obviously, they were able to talk to us about it and be a part of what we were doing when we were in school and even beyond. They made great friends. They always knew the people that sat around them.” They look forward to football season every year. While age has made it more difficult over time to make it to Byrd Stadium — they won’t attend games if the weather is too bad — it’s still part of their routine every fall. It’s only a few Saturdays out of the year, so every chance they get to go is important.

“This is the highlight of my dad’s year,” Melissa said. “He is so excited to have football season coming and be able to go to games. That’s just the thrill. My mom goes along with it.” “I like it very much,” Rhea said. “I didn’t think we could go this year. I said, ‘I think we’re finished,’ but we’re trying it one more year.” The stadium experience has extended beyond the confines of the campus, too. George and Rhea channeled their children’s experiences in College Park to their own fandom, and they make sure to share it with everyone they meet. “They’re just Maryland fans,” Melissa said. “When they meet people, they find out that that person has any ties to the University of Maryland, they immediately start talking about football and telling them that they’ve been going to the games for so long and that they really enjoy it. There’s an immediate bond.” S i t t i n g a b ove s e c t i o n 28 on a late August aftern o o n , G e o rge a n d R h ea were watching a program they’d come to know well open yet another season. There was the typical pageantry of the marching band, pregame introductions and cannon-fire every time the Terps scored. But most of all, they were surrounded by the family that drew them to the Terps and the people who had come to define Saturday afternoons in College Park. “It has to be more than the competition,” Jeff said. “It’s the history of the game, the celebration, the party atmosphere or anything else associated with the event rather than just the game itself. I think that’s what roped them in, and that’s what held them as fans forever and a day.” dgallendbk@gmail.com


THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2013 | HOMECOMING football PREVIEW | The Diamondback

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The last time …

No. 9 Clemson vists College Park on Saturday for the first time since 2011, when the Tigers bested the Terps in a 56-45 thriller. Here’s a quick look back at that matchup.

file photos/the diamondback

Quarterback C.J. Brown made his first career start against the Tigers and responded with a Terps program-record 162 rushing yards and one touchdown. COACH RANDY EDSALL and the Terps need to win one more game to secure bowl eligibility for the first time since 2010. file photo/the diamondback CONTINUED FROM 8

Terps tight end Matt Furstenburg caught five passes for a team-high 104 yards and a pair of long touchdowns. The Terps built a 35-17 lead but ultimately fell as the Tigers defense tightened.

Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins set a school record with 345 all-purpose yards. He also became the second freshman in Clemson history to score three touchdowns in one game.

change the culture of the program. But now his in-game coaching and team management throughout the week will be put to the test. They can certainly win two more games. They’ll just have to shake off the shock of losing nearly a dozen contributors. And the Terps have to look to Edsall to guide them through that. Think about it: The Terps don’t really have a clear-cut leader on the field. The most logical choice, Brown, is dealing with an unspecified injury and was pulled midway through an ineffective performance Saturday. Other players seemingly capable of leading the team based on their play and prominence are Diggs, cornerback Dexter McDougle and outside linebacker Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil. The problem, however, is each of

those three is out for the season with assorted injuries. So that leaves all eyes on Edsall. It’s not like last year when the team was forced to play inside linebacker Shawn Petty under center because of an absurd concentration of injuries at the quarterback position. Injuries this season may be more widespread, but they aren’t quite as debilitating, particularly considering the team has more experience. So now we can truly judge how Edsall’s team responds. “It’s unfortunate that we’ve had the injuries we’ve had, but there’s nothing we can do about it,” Edsall said. “Our guys will step up and do a good job.” In the public eye, of course, Edsall’s giving the same spiel any coach would, saying the team is focused solely on its preparation for the next game. But it’s how Edsall handles the team behind the scenes, how

he comforts and motivates players, who may be a bit pessimistic about the Terps’ situation, that will dictate the final five games of the season. And the results on the field will give outsiders a sense of how well Edsall is handling those responsibilities. They will allow the administration, fans and recruits to further evaluate the coach’s tenure in College Park. Jacobs probably summed it up best Tuesday afternoon at the Terps’ media availability. A reporter asked the sophomore wide receiver if the team had looked to any specific players to lift spirits Saturday after a humbling loss punctuated by injuries to Diggs and Long. Jacobs shrugged. “Coach Edsall’s doing that,” Jacobs said. “Coach Edsall’s the one that’s been bringing us together.” akasinitzdbk@gmail.com

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THE DIAMONDBACK | HOMECOMING FOOTBALL PREVIEW | THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2013

COACH RANDY EDSALL closed his first two years in charge of the Terps on losing streaks of eight and six games, respectively. Despite a slew of injuries to their key players, the Terps are looking to avoid a similar fate in the second half of this season. file photos/the diamondback

FROM THE TOP DOWN

For the Terps to avoid the late-season tailspins of the past two years, Edsall’s leadership becomes key AARON KASINITZ It can’t be easy for the Terrapins football team to stay positive considering its best players are suddenly about as accustomed to wearing hospital gowns as shoulder pads. Seven key defensive players missed the Terps’ 34-10 loss at Wake Forest on Saturday, and their best receivers, Deon Long and Stefon Diggs, suffered broken legs during the game. It doesn’t help the Terps’ cause that the quarterback situation is in flux after Caleb Rowe

replaced starter C.J. Brown in the third quarter because of apparent health concerns. Needless to say, things aren’t going as planned for the Terps. The way a team can navigate through such disarray to salvage a season is to find some source of stability, but because of injuries and inexperience, the Terps don’t appear to have a player who can provide it. They can turn only to Randy Edsall, and the season’s final five games rest on the third-year coach’s shoulders. The Terps are 5-2, still have attainable goals and still have the talent to earn a few more wins. It’s just the recent barrage of bad news they’ve received could knock any team on its

keister. So if Edsall can keep the Terps composed and lead them to two more victories, we’ll know his coaching chops have followed him from Connecticut. If he doesn’t, though, he’ll deserve to face criticism. Edsall’s in his third year, and injuries can’t be the excuse anymore. Plus, the Terps themselves know they can win several remaining games even without some key pieces. “Absolutely,” Brown said. “And we’re still capable of reaching [our goals]. We only have two losses. We can still right our own ship. That’s all we need to focus on.” Wide receiver Levern Jacobs echoed his

signal-caller’s thoughts. “There’s a long season ahead of us,” he added. “So there’s still enough time to complete our goals and things like that.” The tangible goal, of course, is to reach a bowl game — the Terps are one game away from bowl eligibility — but with three games against unranked teams remaining, the Terps should set their sights on a seven-win season. It’ll be up to Edsall to get them there. Edsall has brought two solid recruiting classes to College Park, and he’s begun to CONTINUED ON 7

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