Baltimore Sun reporters Jeff Barker and Don Markus and editor Matt Bracken weigh in on the three biggest topics of the past week in Maryland sports.
Maryland running back Wes Brown has three charges lodged against him. Which appears the most serious?
Jeff Barker: There’s one felony charge against Brown and two misdemeanors. But it’s not the felony count that appears the most potentially damaging.
It’s a felony in Maryland to record someone without their knowledge, and that’s what the player is charged with.
Brown is accused of using a cell phone to record his interaction with police in College Park on July 3.
The police probable cause statement says Brown asked a fellow Maryland student to borrow a cell phone. “Brown said he wanted it so he could record the police so they couldn’t frame him,” the police statement said.
But the more serious charge seems to be one of the misdemeanors – a second-degree assault charge.
The assault charge carries a maximum 10-year term. That doesn’t mean Brown is guilty or – if he is—that he would do that much time. But it’s a serious accusation.
According to the police statement, Brown admitted shoving a police detective who had showed up to question him as a “person of interest” in a non-fatal Baltimore shooting. The police statement says Brown's car has been linked to the shooting.
Brown’s case will be reviewed by prosecutors. But his conduct must also be reviewed by Maryland and its football program.
Brown will be fighting not only to prove his innocence, but to prove he is worthy -- as a person -- of playing football for Maryland. He has been suspended indefinitely.
Brown’s attorney, Jason Shapiro of Howard County, said he is gathering facts about the player’s case.
“I’m looking forward to getting full discovery because I believe when Wes has a chance to tell his side of what happened, I believe we have a good defense to the allegations that were raised,” Shapiro said.
After spending so much time recruiting Phil Booth Jr. (Mount St. Joseph), the Terps ultimately filled the scholarship with New Jersey swingman Jared Nickens. Is Mark Turgeon risking getting local coaches in Baltimore upset if he doesn't take players from the city?
Don Markus: I think Booth's father, Phil Sr., took some potential heat off Turgeon by saying that the Maryland coach was "classy" in recruiting his son. It also doesn't hurt that the younger Booth still has a lot of elite programs reportedly interested, including Indiana.
Taking Nickens is considered a bit of a gamble, but his stock seems to be shooting up the same way that Jake Layman's did after his junior year in high school. Nickens also got an extra year of high school basketball after being reclassified when he transferred from St. Patrick's in north Jersey to a prep school in Westchester, Pa.
Truth is, the commitment the Terps received this spring from shooting guard Dion Wiley basically took Booth out of the picture. Maryland's backcourt is pretty crowded, especially if Dez Wells sticks around past next season. Turgeon and his staff have made it clear that their priority is getting another big man and building on the momentum of having Alex Len drafted fifth overall this year.
I still think that Baltimore is important to Turgeon, but maybe not as important as D.C (because of D.C. Assault and Team Takeover) or even Northern Virginia. It's pretty clear that the Terps have become a big player in recruiting regionally and should see even better results nationally once they join the Big Ten -- as long as they show progress.
As for the local high school coaches, Turgeon has spread enough goodwill on his first two seasons by making himself very visible that passing up a couple of Baltimore players shouldn't hurt his reputation in the city. Eventually, though, Turgeon is going to have to take a chance on a Baltimore kid as he has with Layman and now with Nickens.
Are any Maryland players being overlooked for preseason college football award lists?
Matt Bracken: It shouldn’t be a huge surprise that wide receiver-returner Stefon Diggs is the only Terp that has been added to a watch list for a preseason college football award. The true sophomore was certainly a no-brainer for the 75-man Biletnikoff list – an award given to college football’s top wide receiver. Ditto the Maxwell Award, which is given to college football’s top overall player.
But Diggs had no Maryland company over the past couple weeks as the national college football awards association watch lists were rolled out.
C.J. Brown didn’t have a chance to make the 34-man Davey O’Brien list for top quarterback thanks to his torn ACL last summer. But he’s certainly a guy who – if he lives up to the expectations Maryland coaches have for him – could find himself added at some point in the season.
Doak Walker is probably a less likely bet, given the uncertain legal status of Wes Brown, and the possibility that Brandon Ross and Albert Reid will split carries. The Maryland coaches love Dave Stinebaugh’s potential at tight end, but he has to prove he can stay healthy and be productive before he gets in the Mackey Award conversation.
I think Maryland’s offensive line will be improved in 2013, but there are still too many question marks to merit award consideration. Mike Madaras and Andrew Zeller might be guys to watch down the road.
Defensively, it probably shouldn’t come as a shock that a unit that lost Joe Vellano, A.J. Francis, Demetrius Hartsfield, Darin Drakeford, Kenneth Tate and Eric Franklin wasn’t recognized. Since most of these watch lists are stats-based, junior linebacker Cole Farrand (78 tackles, six TFLs, three forced fumbles) might have a legitimate gripe, but then again, college football savant Phil Steele didn’t have Farrand – or any other defensive Terp, for that matter – on any of his four preseason All-ACC teams.
So this has been a roundabout way of saying that no, it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that Diggs is the only name on any of these lists. Maryland has much to prove in its last year in the ACC. There’s intriguing talent across the board, but nothing is a given heading into the fall.