Sandwisch takes hold as leader


COLLEGE PARK -- Coach Joe Krivak believes the tale is instructive, that it provides an insight into the character of the quarterback who will lead Maryland's football team this season.

In 1989, when Jim Sandwisch was still a walk-on in his third season with the Terps, he was the holder for extra points and field goals and the backup punter. Because he had an accounting class at 4:30 p.m., he made a habit of coming early to practice at 3:15 to hold for the kickers for 15 minutes, then showered, dressed and went to class.

"That was the only time they offered the class," Sandwisch said. "I came out and did what I could."

"That," Krivak said, "tells you something about the kid. He's got a little something to him."

The kid, the 6-foot-3, 197-pound Sandwisch out of Great Mills High on the southern tip of southern Maryland, now steps into the spot once occupied by people such as Boomer Esiason, Neil O'Donnell and Scott Zolak. When the Terps open their season tomorrow against Virginia, Sandwisch, a fifth-year senior, will start at quarterback.

Sandwisch is no longer a walk-on, having earned a scholarship before last season.

"I didn't want to play three years in Division III," Sandwisch said. "I wanted to go to a big school and see if football there would work out."

Last year, as the backup to Zolak, Sandwisch appeared in three games, the first at Michigan when the Wolverines already had the game well in hand. It was the fourth quarter, and the Terps were on their 1-yard line. In the stands, 101,000 people were screaming.

"I put my hands under the center and he told me later they were vibrating," Sandwisch said. "Then I settled down and it was fun."

Sandwisch connected on seven of eight passes for 65 yards. He later made cameo appearances against Georgia Tech and North Carolina. Inexperienced as he is, Sandwisch now is being asked to lead Maryland to its second straight winning season. The Terps finished 6-5-1 last year, tying Louisiana Tech, 34-34, in the Independence Bowl.

"He showed in the spring he could move the team," said quarterbacks coach Jerry Eisaman. "He knows the offense and he marched the team and made big plays. A big factor is that his teammates elected him as a co-captain. That shows they feel he can lead."

Behind Sandwisch is John Kaleo, a transfer from Montgomery College-Rockville. He was the 1990 National Junior College Player of the Year.

"How long we go with Jim will depend on how well we play," Krivak said. "I mean, there are 10 other guys. We've taken our two best [Sandwisch and Kaleo] and prepared them."

Virginia, too, has an inexperienced quarterback. Matt Blundin, a

6-7 senior who also plays basketball, occasionally spelled All-America Shawn Moore, now a rookie on the developmental squad with the Denver Broncos.

"He's got to be an athlete if he plays major college basketball," Krivak said. "And he's big enough at 6-7, 233, to provide his own protection. How the game goes probably will depend on how the two inexperienced quarterbacks do, which team makes the fewest mistakes, the kicking game and someone making a big play on offense or defense."

Chances are fans will get a look at Larry Washington, the freshman running back out of Randallstown High. One of Krivak's prized recruits, Washington is expected to return punts and kickoffs.

"The vast majority of the freshmen will be redshirted, but Larry is doing real well," Krivak said. "He has handled training well."

Another co-captain, center Mitch Suplee, sums up the team's goals succinctly.

"A winning season," he said. "A bowl game. Respect. We'll take care of ourselves if we do that."

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