Terps pursue, get QB Lipton Arundel standout, Suitland running back commit to Maryland

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The Maryland coaching staff had a change of heart toward Arundel's Erik Lipton, The Sun's All-Metro quarterback.

Lipton was ready to commit to Maryland last summer, but held off his choice of a college when coach Mark Duffner's future became uncertain. He was disappointed earlier this month when the new coaching staff decided not to make the same offer. But last night coach Ron Vanderlinden made a new sales pitch that Lipton accepted.

"I'm very, very excited," Lipton said. "It's what I wanted all along. They [Maryland coaches] came to my house for 90 minutes and explained the process to me. They said that even when they weren't recruiting me, my name kept popping up in their discussions."

Lipton spent last weekend visiting Lehigh, a member of the nonscholarship Patriot League, and he had accepted the fact that he might be playing his college ball in Division I-AA. Instead, it will be in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Lipton wasn't the only in-state standout to commit to the Terps yesterday, as Suitland's Lamont Jordan, one of the region's top running backs, also announced his intention to play for Maryland.

Lipton set state public school records for career attempts (522), completions (312), yards (4,769), touchdown passes (47) and fewest interceptions (17) for 400 or more passes.

Last season, the 6-foot-4 quarterback completed 146 of 248 passes for 2,056 yards with 20 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Terps offensive coordinator Craig Johnson visited the Gambrills school yesterday to talk to coach Bill Zucco. "Erik always wanted to play at Maryland, but when Duffner got fired, we got concerned," Zucco said. "Johnson told me the more they watched films looking for a quarterback, the more they liked Erik."

Lipton will make his commitment official Feb. 5, when the letter-of-intent period begins. He is the second quarterback to commit to Maryland, following Gil Harris of Virginia Beach, Va.

Like Lipton, Harris didn't receive offers from any other major-college programs. The Terps had a glaring lack of depth at the position last year, and while Harris isn't going to step in and play as a freshman, his high school coach believes he eventually will have an impact in the ACC.

"Gil doesn't have the big figures throwing the ball, but I'll take responsibility for that," said Ken Barto, the coach at Tallwood High in Virginia Beach. "We run the wing-T. We don't throw the ball very much, but Gil has great fundamentals throwing the ball, and a very, very strong arm.

"Our school is only 5 years old, but we've been to the playoffs three times. Gil was instrumental in starting a good foundation here. Maryland was the only I-A program after him, but I've sent 67 kids to college, and this is the best I've had."

Tallwood went 8-2 last year, as Harris, 6-2 and 210 pounds, threw for approximately 700 yards. In three years as a varsity starter, he threw for 2,228 yards.

Over the past three recruiting years, Maryland signed just two quarterbacks who made their way into the program.

Maryland ranked 103rd among the nation's 111 major-college teams in total offense last year, but the Terps have gotten some other commitments that should help them improve.

Jordan, 5-10 and 215 pounds, was the pivotal player in a football revival at Suitland, which went 8-2 after two decades as a doormat in Prince George's County. He gained 1,922 yards and 23 touchdowns on 196 carries. Jordan also is a top-drawer sprinter for the 4A school, with bests of 10.6 in the 100 meters and 21.6 in the 200.

Early in the recruiting campaign, Jordan was reported to have a strong interest in North Carolina. But Kevin Lynch, his coach at Suitland, said that Maryland won out over Michigan State and Syracuse.

The Terps scored big locally yesterday, but their focus today is on the West Coast, where Andre Carter will announce his college choice. Carter, a Parade All-America defensive lineman from San Jose, Calif., spent yesterday discussing his options with his father, Rubin, who happens to be one of Maryland's assistant coaches.

Carter took official visits to Miami, Rutgers, California, Northwestern and Arizona State, but spent part of the holiday break with his father in College Park.

Jordan isn't the first member of the Washington Post's All-Metro team to commit to Maryland. Anacostia tight end Eric James did so earlier this month. James, 6-2 and 225, also was used as an H-back last season, when he turned 71 catches into 1,224 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Special teams help could come from Florida, where the Terps have recruited David Pavich, a kicker from Boca Raton, and Devin White, a punter from Benjamin.

When spring practice begins April 1, the prospects will include linebacker Julian Hambrick, an Elizabeth, N.J., product who signed last year but was never cleared by the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse. He's expected to be enrolled for the spring semester, which begins tomorrow.

On the coaching front, Maryland will make official today the hiring of Wally Ake as defensive coordinator, a position that came open unexpectedly two weeks ago, after the resignation of Lou Tepper.

A native of Falls Church, Va., Ake was the defensive coordinator at Rice the past three seasons. Ake, 46, has spent the past 16 years working for Ken Hatfield, following him from Air Force to Arkansas to Clemson to Rice. The Owls were 7-4 in the Western Athletic Conference last season.

Vanderlinden, who was hired Dec. 3, has one more assistant's position to fill, on offense.

Pub Date: 1/28/97

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