COLLEGE PARK -- A year ago, quarterback John Kaleo came to Maryland's football program with a great reputation, a solid arm and so much confidence that it bordered on arrogance.
He once predicted he would throw several touchdown passes against West Virginia, only to throw one and get yanked in the second period. He also had a personality conflict with his former coach, and by the end of the season, he was working his way down instead of up on the depth chart.
But John Kaleo was reborn yesterday.
The 5-foot-10, 202-pound senior from Bowie was selected as Maryland's starting quarterback when the Terps open the season Sept. 5 in Charlottesville against Virginia.
Kaleo, believe it or not, has not spoken with the print media this season, still irritated about stories in a Washington newspaper a year ago that he said treated him unfairly.
But he has seemed exceedingly happy this week. He has been wearing a bright pink baseball cap backward, dark wire-framed sunglasses and a huge smile while driving around in a Jeep convertible.
In the past five days, Kaleo beat out redshirt freshman Scott Milanovich, 6 feet 4 and 220 pounds, from Butler, Pa., for the starting job.
"When it got to the very end, John got that little edge," said Mark Duffner, Maryland's first-year coach. "We're very happy with the play of both quarterbacks, and it was a hard decision with a lot of discussion. We were looking for a guy who can move the team, move the chains, make the decisions to move our offense effectively and get us in the end zone. I've said the position doesn't always go to the biggest, quickest or fastest player."
Kaleo isn't built like a prototypical quarterback. He's the same height as Doug Flutie and with less arm strength. But he's ideal for Duffner's run-and-shoot offense. He's got quick feet and his height shouldn't be much of a problem because the Terps will use a lot of rollouts.
Plus, Kaleo can scramble.
"I think John is going to do a good job," said senior safety Scott Rosen. "He's worked very hard, and his biggest asset is his ability to make big plays. That scrambling gives us another dimension."
That may have been the deciding factor.
Duffner and quarterback coach Clyde Christensen were careful not to mention what separated Kaleo from Milanovich.
But Milanovich is a straight drop-back quarterback and a stationary target. Maryland's offensive line, average at best, has already been hurt by injuries. The Terps aren't a physically dominating team and won't have many ball-control drives.
They are going to need big plays.
But Christensen has not ruled out using Milanovich this season, maybe against Virginia. Milanovich declined to be interviewed yesterday.