COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland first-year coach Mark Duffner apparently is making the grade in other areas than on the football field.
Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger said that the team grade-point average rose from 2.06 on a 4.0 scale in the fall to 2.51 last spring and that 59 players had improved their averages. Geiger also said that only nine players had 3.0 averages or better last fall, and 23 were at 3.0 or better last spring.
"If I had to pick one thing that stood out the most about Mark Duffner when we interviewed him last winter, it was the thoroughness in his program," said Geiger. "He has given this program the same commitment. He is interested in the whole well-being of the student. I have been impressed with his courage to challenge on third-down situations as well as the players on institutional policy."
Duffner and several of his coaches attend study hall, which starts at 7 a.m. on some mornings. Only one player was declared academically ineligible for the season.
"Mark is there with the kids, talking with them before and after practice," said Geiger. "He doesn't leave anyone to blame except himself."
The Terps also have improved their recruiting campaign. In August, the Terps invited 650 of the nation's best players to a prospect day. Two-hundred fifty attended, and they were given a tour of the university's academic and athletic facilities and listened to guest speakers.
The staff sends out weekly newsletters to the prospects and invites them to every home game, but the prospects must pay for their meals.
When Duffner was hired last January, he made it a priority to visit every high school in Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington.
"I feel that if we can get the 10 to 15 top players out of the Maryland and D.C. areas every year, then we can win the ACC in three years," said Kyle Lingerfelt, Maryland's recruiting coordinator. "I don't think there was even an effort made in Washington before. We also recruited in Florida for the first time."
BTC According to Lingerfelt, he thought Maryland had a good recruiting class after last season, considering the Terps had a late start.
Two freshmen, receivers Bill Inge and Jermaine Lewis, have started for the Terps this season. Some other good prospects signed by the Terps include wide receivers Alan Wallace and Andrew Carter, quarterback Orlando Strozier and defensive tackles Aaron Henne, Tyrone Simpson and Dennis Martin.
"We have gone into some new areas and strengthened some old ones," said Lingerfelt. "I think with the new facilities, the new attitude, the area, the conference and the school itself, we have a lot to offer."