Drafted or not, football's been fun for ex-Saint Wu
Author(s): Joe Bush
Date: April 14, 2000
Jamie Wu's got his Saturday all planned out, and man, has he been looking forward to it. After five years with the University of Maryland football program - the last two as a 22-game starter at right guard - the 1995 St. Charles grad will reap the harvest of all his hard work.
The day will probably start with a big breakfast - he's 6-foot-2 and 320 pounds as of Tuesday - the perfect way to prepare a guy for... playing in an alumni golf tournament.
There will be no breathless hovering over ESPN's NFL Draft Day coverage. More like jocular hovering over a 3-foot putt.
See, Wu is not high on anybody's draft board, and he has no illusions. If no team picks him, and the free-agent route doesn't pan out, and NFL Europe or the Arena League isn't attractive....
"I'll work the rest of my life like everyone else," he half- jokes.
Compared to the guys who will hang on the every word of NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and the other league officials who announce the picks after the first round, Wu has really only dabbled in football.
It's a sport he didn't start playing until his sophomore year in high school, and he has never devoted a full year to it.
Wu was a high-school All-America in track and field as well as football, so when he chose Maryland for its academics, he also had an eye on a track program that is forgotten amid the Atlantic Coast Conference giants.
Wu placed fifth in the shot at the ACC Indoor Championship three straight years. He earned All-East honors in the shot his sophomore and junior seasons and is a four-time letterwinner.
He was determined to have some fun away from the year-round demands of big-time football, though that hardly means he shirked his football duties.
He learned offensive-line skills after his sophomore year, when new coach Ron Vanderlinden and his staff decided Wu would be a better blocker than tackler.
Though Wu weighed around 315 pounds in high school, he played this year at 295 and would play in the NFL between 305 and 310.
He's got pro size, and you better believe he's got pro strength.
Wu will leave College Park not only as a graduate but as the strongest bench-presser in Terps history, as well as one of the top-three strongest squatters.
In Wu's two starting seasons, Maryland quarterbacks suffered 26 and 45 fewer sacks than the year before he started. The Terps boasted the nation's 12th-ranked rushing attack last season.
Wu earned ACC offensive lineman of the week honors once last fall, earned second-team all-ACC honors, and played in the annual Blue-Gray showcase game for seniors.
He didn't realize he might play in the NFL until last season, when coaches told him scouts were asking about him. In the stands at a Washington Redskins game, Wu pictured himself on the field and didn't blink.
He's not counting on hearing his name on Sunday, Day 2 of the draft, when he will be in his apartment, just in case.
Most likely his agent will promote him for tryouts, and Wu figures he may be better off that way. After the first few rounds of the draft, he says, the free-agent route may be better.
A player can take his pick of the teams that call to invite him for a tryout, and a guy can be sure that when a team calls him, it must have a need at his position, that he's not simply the best player available, regardless of where he plays.
"It's still a dream," Wu says. "If I get my chance, I'd love to take it."
Wu is genuine, so far unaffected by his spotlight status as a standout on a Division I football team and potential pro lineman.
Amid the chaos of a two-sport, high-GPA schedule, Wu was one of many to send a letter of condolence to former Saints coach Buck Drach when Drach's wife, Rose, passed away last September.
It's clear that because Wu's life hasn't been all about football, he doesn't need his future to be, either. He's wrung as much as a guy can from a free college experience.
His teammates voted him one of five captains last season. He won a team award for having the highest GPA among seniors, as well as nabbing the Terps' lineman of the year honor.
Wu will have a bachelor's degree in Art Studio (graphic design), and has enjoyed the East Coast so much he may stay if he doesn't play football.
Wu's got his whole life ahead of him, and man, has he been looking forward to it.
Joe Bush can be reached by phone at (630) 587-8641 or by email at jbush@@dailyherald.com.
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