The Terps have not anointed any of the top freshmen as starters at this point and will leave that open until possibly early January, Tillman said, but they were certainly on the field as much as anyone in this particular practice.
“We didn’t want to make any final decisions until we felt like it was clear to everybody here. Right now, there are a lot of guys fighting for spots, and we’ve appreciated that,” said Tillman, who was also quick to point out the under-the-radar upperclassmen involved in those competitions, too. “That competition has really helped us. Like most freshmen, we’ve had some good days and some days where maybe the game was pretty fast for them, which is typical.”
About three-quarters through a lively two-hour practice on campus in College Park, Md., last Tuesday morning, Maryland’s senior goalie, Niko Amato, gobbled up a 12-yard left-handed shot from the right alley by heralded freshman attackman Matt Rambo.
“Popcorn,” Amato yelled in mock jest at the ease of his stop.
It was an appropriate food reference, although Amato probably wasn’t thinking it at the time. He just wanted to remind a freshman he was a freshman. (But don’t let the one scene fool you; Rambo looked impressive.)
But just as former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens alerted fans to watch him and “Get your popcorn ready,” when he joined the Dallas Cowboys, eyes will be
on the impact and development of Maryland’s highly-regarded rookie class. Although they’re not necessarily seeking out the attention, Maryland coach John Tillman said, like T.O. would.
Rambo, widely considered one of the top freshmen in the country after a decorated career at La Salle (Pa.), along with attackmen Tim Rotanz, Connor Cannizzaro and attack/midfielder Colin Heacock are a four-pack of offensive talent that could see plenty of playing time this spring in what figures to be an even more competitive year of ACC lacrosse. Notre Dame and Syracuse join the Terps, defending national champion Duke, North Carolina and Virginia in the fray.
Rambo, Rotanz, Cannizzaro (younger brother of 2013 Tewaaraton women’s finalist Kara, of North Carolina) and Heacock are among 13 true freshmen on the Terps’ roster who will help replace a battle-tested group of graduated seniors, including five of six offensive starters from the lineup that bowed out to Cornell in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Byrd Stadium.