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Terps notes: Player can't collect 'game ball' until he finishes school

The Baltimore Sun

Marcus Whitfield learned the day after the FIU game that he was awarded the game ball – on the defensive side – for his five tackles and 1 ½ sacks.

But the Maryland linebacker said he was told by the school that he couldn’t have the football, at least not now.

“We can’t get the game ball until after we leave school because it’s against NCAA regulations. We have the game ball but it’s in the archives,” Whitfield said. “That was crazy when I heard that (about game balls) when Coach (Randy) Edsall first got here,” said Whitfield, a fifth-year senior.

The NCAA told the Baltimore Sun that the school would not be in violation of extra benefit rules by awarding a player a football. "The answer is yes. A student-athlete can keep a game ball," NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said in an email response.

Asked about the apparent discrepancy, Maryland said it was trying to watch out for the players' best interests.

The NCAA places monetary limits on gifts that athletes can receive. Schools may give awards worth up to $225 a year for underclassmen. The limit is $425 for seniors. There are higher limits for the gift bags that teams typically receive when they play in bowl games.

Maryland's thinking is that it doesn't want to exhaust the limit on footballs and risk depriving players of other gifts later on.

Maryland and other schools typically give keepsakes to departing seniors. In the past, seniors have received framed jerseys with a value that would count against the annual limits.

Each school makes its own determination on whether it wants to provide game balls or withhold them. 

"It's  always good to have one," Whitfield said. But he said he doesn't mind waiting for his football.

Other Terps notes:

**Edsall said Whitfield has matured since the coach's arrival before the 2011 season. Whitfield played in all 12 games last season, starting two. 

“I was very pleased for Marcus (Saturday) because Marcus was, when I first got here, he was kind of a little shy guy, didn’t talk a whole a lot,” the coach said. “But now you just see this kid that’s emerging into a young man and has developed a lot more confidence in himself and he handles himself with a lot more confidence. I think the other thing that’s helped Marcus is he’s being pushed by Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil.”

Whitfield became a father nearly four years ago.

His son, Jeremiah, recently began a Head Start program.

“He comes to all the games and I see him on the weekends, especially on the weekend after the games,” Whitfield said. He loves my roommates (Tyler Cierski, Cole Farrand and Stephen Grommer). He loves everybody on the team, though some of them might scare him.”

**Maryland is preparing this week for Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who won the 2012 Walter Payton Award as the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision.

“They throw the ball around, all over the place,” Edsall said. “It spreads out. Its four wides and they work to try to get the receivers in space and get them the ball. And the quarterback is very athletic. He is very elusive. He can extend plays.”

Heinicke led the FCS in passing yards and passing touchdowns. Last week, he was 38 for 51 for 338 yards in a 52-38 loss to East Carolina. 


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