No longer QB, Terps' Jones glad to land in safety net; Soph from T. Johnson sees brighter future on defense


COLLEGE PARK -- Randall Jones said yesterday he is through playing musical chairs with his football career at Maryland.

"I'm not moving again," Jones said yesterday after his first day of practice at strong safety following his move from quarterback. "I have a lot better chance at going a lot further [in the pros] at safety than at quarterback because of my size [6 feet 2, 212] and speed [state high school hurdles champion]."

In a little more than one year, the sophomore from Thomas Johnson High in Frederick has gone from free safety to quarterback to strong safety.

When asked if he were surprised he was switched without taking a single snap in the season opener against Temple last Thursday, Jones said, "If the coaches see fit for me not to have that chance, it's fine with me. Now, I wish I had come into this preseason as a defensive back. I wouldn't be as far behind as I am now."

Jones said he was not upset over the change and added, "I can just sit back now and get some of the press off me. I don't like all this attention. I just like to go out and make plays on defense."

Maryland coach Ron Vanderlinden said moving Jones was discussed eight days before the Temple game and was finalized when Calvin McCall performed admirably in his collegiate debut, a 6-0 win over the Owls.

"We said if Calvin plays well that will give us the opportunity to move Randall back to the secondary, rather than not have him on the field," said Vanderlinden, who lost strong safety Tony Jackson for six to eight weeks with a broken ankle in the opener.

"He's just too good a player. It also gives us an opportunity to put Latrez [Harrison, a freshman quarterback] in the mix."

Meanwhile, backup tailback Mookie Sikyala (sprained ankle) is doubtful for Division I-AA Western Carolina this week, starting tailback LaMont Jordan (bruised quad) is probable, and cornerback Tony Okanlawon (hamstring) is close to 100 percent.

Pub Date: 9/07/99

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