The Maryland coach is a rotund gent known as The Fridge. So when Ralph Friedgen talks about his Terrapins making a mistake on Steve Slaton "big time," he means it.
"He's a wonderful kid," Friedgen said yesterday on a conference call, referring to the star sophomore Mountaineers tailback whom the Terrapins offered a scholarship and then rescinded it in 2004. "I just had so many running backs, it was hard for me to take another one. He was a good student. He could run fast. I knew he would be a good player, the type of character kid he was."
One homegrown tailback who nudged Slaton from Maryland's picture was Morgan Green of White Plains, Md. Green failed to qualify academically as a freshman and went to prep school. "That really ticked me off, because I knew Steve was a good student," Friedgen said.
Slaton surged at the middle of last season for West Virginia, earning his first start in the sixth game at Rutgers and rushing for 996 yards the rest of the way. He has 308 yards in five quarters this year and a chip on his shoulder pads entering tomorrow's Maryland-West Virginia game on ESPN. On Sunday, he spoke about showing the Terrapins what they missed, about trying to score every carry.
"Hindsight's 20-20, and I wish I had made that decision" to take Slaton, Friedgen said. "To be honest with you, I hope he comes out early."
For the NFL, he meant.