COLLEGE PARK -- Some unexpected help from Auburn has pumped a lot of excitement into a routine Maryland football recruiting season. It has helped the Terps land an oral commitment from a highly regarded quarterback on the eve of tomorrow's first official letter-of-intent signing day.
Latrez Harrison, ranked in the top 15 nationally among high school quarterbacks by one scouting service, is expected to sign with Maryland tomorrow instead of Auburn after originally committing orally to the Tigers.
Harrison, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound player from Atlanta, decided not to attend Auburn when the Southeastern Conference school received an oral commitment from another top quarterback.
Harrison threw 27 touchdown passes and rolled up 2,400 yards passing in his senior year at Booker T. Washington High in Atlanta.
Harrison is the big-name national quarterback coach Ron Vanderlinden has been seeking since his arrival two years ago.
If Harrison lives up to his billing, he could shove rising sophomores Randall Jones and Calvin McCall into the background. Jones started last season and was expected to be challenged by McCall this fall.
Harrison is one of 22 players who have given oral commitments to Maryland and are set to sign tomorrow.
Two are from the Baltimore area -- Meade defensive back Andrew Smith and John Carroll receiver Scooter Monroe. A third, linebacker Leroy Ambush, is from Thomas Johnson High in Frederick.
Another state product ready to sign tomorrow with Maryland is Walter Johnson wide receiver Kevin Brant, who compiled 7,021 yards of total offense in three years while playing seven positions.
Brant (6-1, 185) is the son of CBS and JeffersonPilot sportscaster Tim Brant, who played linebacker at Maryland in the early 1970s.
The sudden appearance of Harrison may help wipe out some of Vanderlinden's earlier recruiting disappointments.
Vanderlinden lost an intense battle with Georgia Tech for Eastern Tech wide receiver Anthony Lawston.
Eastern Tech coach Nick Arminio said last night the 6-3 1/2, 205-pound Lawston chose Georgia Tech for three reasons.
"Most of the football players at Tech are in the engineering program, and he'll fit right in with them; he will be allowed to attend his labs on Monday afternoon and still go to practice, and he wants to settle in the South after his college days are over," Arminio said.
"Maryland just lost out to a good school that is more suited toward Anthony's needs in the classroom," the coach said. "Anthony made a good, sound decision between Maryland, Georgia Tech and Penn State. No matter which one he chose, he couldn't really go wrong.
"Anthony has been a mature person since the first day he walked into our school. He's been a role model, a real leader and a focused person."
Arminio denied speculation that Lawston chose Georgia Tech because its coaching staff said he would get an opportunity to play wide receiver in contrast to Maryland, which was prepared to move him to linebacker.
Vanderlinden also has come up short in his attempt to bring in a lot more speed at the running back and wide receiver positions.
But he has been successful in finding a lot of help on the offensive line, one of his top priorities.
Four offensive linemen are prepared to sign tomorrow, the largest being 6-7, 325-pound Nick Fischer from Mars (Pa.) High.
The other three are Aaron Wormley (6-6, 285) out of Penn Wood High in Lansdowne, Pa.; Ed Tyler (6-3, 275) from Delsea High in Franklinville, N.J.; and Lamar Bryant (6-4, 265), who played at Crossland High in Temple Hills.
Vanderlinden has said often he doesn't believe in signing junior college transfers because "you are only mortgaging the future."
He does not have any oral commitments from junior college transfers but does have a commitment from a South Florida transfer, linebacker Kevin Bishop.
Terps '99 schedule
Sept. 4 at Temple
Sept. 11 Western Carolina
Sept. 18 West Virginia
Sept. 30 at Georgia Tech
Oct. 9 at Wake Forest
Oct. 16 Clemson
Oct. 23 North Carolina
Oct. 30 Duke
Nov. 6 at N.C. State
Nov. 13 at Florida State
Nov. 20 Virginia
Pub Date: 2/02/99