A little more than two months ago --- less than a week before the Maryland football program turned upside down --- one of my conversations with the ever-entertaining A.J. Francis started off with me wryly asking how much busier he was in December than the year before.
"I have a lot more to do," Francis said. "Last December, I was more focused on academic all-ACC because I didn't have anything else to look forward to. Now, I'm still trying to make academic all-ACC, but also getting ready to play ECU. Watching a lot of film, I've got a lot more hours taken up now than I did last year, which isn't a bad thing."
Francis got his MIlitary Bowl victory over East Carolina at the end of the month.
Today, he got the other item on his wish list.
The nose tackle (a government and politics major) was one of four Maryland players to earn spots on the all-conference academic team. Punter Travis Baltz (business), center Bennett Fulper (letters and sciences) and do-it-all offensive lineman Paul Pinegar (history) were also named to the all-academic team. Players who make the all-academic team must have both a 3.0 grade point average for the previous semester and for their entire college careers.
It is the fourth academic all-ACC honor for Baltz, and the second for both Francis and Pinegar.
Virginia Tech had five representatives on the team (receiver Danny Coale, defensive end Chris Drager, defensive tackle John Graves, center Beau Warren and running back David Wilson), while Virginia had one (kicker Robert Randolph).