COLLEGE PARK -- If there were one Monday morning this season that Maryland running back LaMont Jordan did not want to wake up with a sore right hamstring, it was this week.
The television cameras (ESPN) will be rolling in Atlanta tomorrow night for an 8 o'clock game with No. 9 Georgia Tech (2-1), and it will be Jordan's only opportunity this season to perform in front of a national audience against a Top 25 team.
The hamstring was improved yesterday morning, and Jordan took part in a light afternoon workout, prompting Maryland coach Ron Vanderlinden to express optimism over the tailback's chances of starting tomorrow night.
"We really won't know for sure until game time, but right now we think he's going to be OK," Vanderlinden said. "If he's hobbled, we don't want him to play. This is such an important game for LaMont for so many personal reasons. He not only has a chance to show the country what he can do, but he has some pretty impressive stats to build on."
The 5-foot-11, 216-pound junior is third in the Atlantic Coast Conference and 17th in the nation in rushing with 121 yards a game for the 3-0 Terps. Against Division 1-AA Western Carolina, he had 158 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries, and he came back stronger the next week against West Virginia.
Jordan punched his way through the Mountaineers for a career-high 164 yards and one touchdown on 22 rushes. The Forestville native (Suitland High) now seems assured of reaching the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season for the first time in his collegiate career.
He has 363 yards in three games and would become the school's first 1,000-yard single-season rusher since Willie Joyner gained 1,039 yards in 1982.
Jordan had 689 yards as a freshman and wound up with 906 last season. He sat out the season opener against James Madison with an ankle injury and then gained only one yard on nine carries in the third game of the season against West Virginia.
Fast company for Harrison
If people really are judged by the company they keep, then Maryland freshman quarterback Latrez Harrison should get an A-plus for hanging out in Atlanta the past couple of summers with Georgia Tech's Heisman Trophy candidate, senior quarterback Joe Hamilton.
"I met Joe through my mother, who works at Georgia Tech," said Harrison this week. "We work out a lot together and are pretty close friends. He has my telephone number here in College Park and calls me sometimes."
One of the first things Hamilton wanted to know last week during a media teleconference was whether Harrison would travel with the Maryland team to his home town of Atlanta for tomorrow night's game.
"Latrez told me he was going to Maryland and hoping to start," said Hamilton, 5 feet 10, who is known as "Little Joe" in his tiny home town of Alvin, S.C.
"I see they moved a quarterback [Randall Jones] to defensive back, and I was wondering where Latrez stood now. I know him very well."
When told that Harrison was competing with fifth-year senior Trey Evans for No. 2 behind redshirt freshman Calvin McCall, Hamilton said: "That's a tough position to be in because both Latrez and the starter have four years of eligibility left."
Harrison has been looking forward to the Georgia Tech game since the first day he arrived in College Park but will apparently not get an opportunity to play against Hamilton and the Yellow Jackets.
Harrison is on the traveling squad and has received a lot of reps over the past week, but Vanderlinden has said repeatedly that he is "just getting Latrez prepared" in case he has to replace McCall in an emergency.
Maryland has lost 28 straight games to teams ranked in the Associated Press poll, adding even more significance to tomorrow night's date with the Yellow Jackets.
The last time the Terps defeated a ranked team was in the final game of the 1990 season when they upset No. 8 Virginia, 35-30, in Charlottesville.
It was the second upset over an AP-ranked team on the road for Maryland in 1990, with the first a 14-10 win over 25th-ranked West Virginia in the second game of the season in Morgantown.
That 1990 squad finished 6-5-1 and was the last Maryland team to go to a bowl. The Terps tied Louisiana Tech, 34-34, in the Independence Bowl.
Maryland is 27-99-3 all time against teams ranked by the Associated Press.
Canned crowd noise
In an attempt to simulate the expected roar of the crowd at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium tomorrow night, Vanderlinden had crowd noise piped on to the team's artificial turf practice field for yesterday's workout.
"Hearing the cadence is a major concern," Vanderlinden said. "Hopefully this will prepare us somewhat for what is coming."
Next for Terps
Opponent: No. 9 Georgia Tech
Site: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta
When: Tomorrow, 8 p.m.
TV/Radio: ESPN/WNST (1570 AM)
Line: Georgia Tech by 20 Pub Date: 9/29/99