Oquendo uses speed as hurdler on track team

By Andrew Zuckerman The Diamondback

April 19, 2007

College Park, MD (CSTV U-WIRE) -- If wide receiver Danny Oquendo ever hurdles any defenders during next season, it shouldn't come as a surprise to many people.

Oquendo, a junior next season, has been doubling this spring as a receiver for the Terrapin football team and as a hurdler for the Terp track team. Oquendo made his debut with the track team Feb. 16-17 in Blacksburg, Va., during the Virginia Tech Challenge and has run with the Terps during the winter and spring seasons.

"It definitely helps out with my running mechanics a lot," Oquendo said. "I got a little bit faster from where I was last year. In high school, I ran track so I was always running form-wise, speed-wise. It was pretty fun to go back out there and run again."

In Oquendo's first meet, he set the fourth-best mark in Terp history with a 7.62 second time in the 55-meter hurdles. Oquendo also ran March 4 in the IC4A Championships in Boston and March 24 at the Disney Invitational in Orlando, Fla., where he placed seventh in the 110-meter hurdles with a 14.77 second time.

Beginning today and lasting until Saturday, the ACC Outdoor Track and Field Championships will be held at this university. And while Oquendo said he wants to compete, he is unsure if he will get the chance.

"It depends how [football coach Ralph] Friedgen feels about it," Oquendo said. "Right now, we're pretty short on receivers with a lot of injuries and whatnot, so he's gonna need as many receivers as he can to get reps. Hopefully he just lets me run it. I'd like to help the track team out, but first football's my priority, so I can't just step over Friedgen's toes."

When asked after Tuesday's spring football practice, Friedgen said he didn't know if Oquendo will run.

"I'm short at wide receiver right now. Danny's been OK, but I expect him to play at a higher level than what he's playing," Friedgen said. "I don't know. I gotta look at that one."

At Hackensack High School in Hackensack, N.J., Oquendo ran track for four years, and his 7.62 time in high hurdles was the fourth best in the country.

Cornerback Richard Taylor, who will be a redshirt junior next year, has also competed on the track team this season.

n Good with the wind

Heavy winds didn't stop the Terps from practicing Tuesday, and despite the not-so-favorable conditions, all drills ran normally.

Quarterbacks Jordan Steffy and Josh Portis didn't seem to be bothered too much, and surprisingly, the kicking game was as good as it has been all spring season.

Placekickers Obi Egekeze and Travis Baltz were on target, combining to hit 7-of-8 field goal attempts at the beginning of practice. And at the end of practice, the duo was still strong, drilling all of their attempts.

Egekeze hit a 33-yarder, and Baltz connected from 40 and 42 yards out with plenty of distance to spare.

"It should do well [for the kickers' confidence], especially with the conditions," special teams coach Ray Rychleski said. "Whether the wind's blowing in your face or you've got the wind, it's still hard conditions today."

n TERP NOTE: Quarterback Jeremy Ricker, who will be a redshirt freshman next season, was absent from practice once again yesterday, as he continues to contemplate transferring.

"I'm assuming he's looking," Friedgen said. "I told him I would grant him his release to anybody except the people we play and that I would help him get where he wants to get."

(C) 2007 The Diamondback via CSTV U-WIRE