A few years ago, he seemed well on the way to being called "Fridge II."

But, down to a svelte 275 pounds, Russell Maryland is known as "The Conscience."He also is known as the recipient of the 1990 Outland Trophy, the annual award going to the nation's best interior lineman.

Maryland, a mainstay of the University of Miami's rugged defensive line for the past three years, won the 45th Outland Trophy on Wednesday.

He outpolled the other finalists - offensive linemen Joe Garten of Colorado and Stacy Long of Clemson - in the balloting by members of the Football Writers Association of America. The group does not reveal the final tally.

A pudgy 317-pounder when he came out of Young High School in Chicago, Maryland initially made just one recruiting visit and got just one scholarship offer - from Indiana State. Miami, however, stepped in late after a couple of recruits couldn't meet admission standards and offered him a scholarship.

"When I first got to Miami, I just wanted to make an impact on the program. They (the Miami coaches) wanted me to lose weight and build up muscle," Maryland recalled, smiling.

A soft-spoken, religious young man, Maryland has been nicknamed "The Conscience" by his Hurricane teammates.

"I think he invented right and wrong. If you do something wrong, he's the guy who's going to scold you," Miami offensive tackle Mike Sullivan once said of Maryland.

"I guess I'm an ever-present, conscience kind of guy," Maryland said. "I always get after them (his teammates)."

He has 96 tackles and 101/2 quarterback sacks for Miami (9-2) this year. He will close out his career with the fourth-ranked Hurricanes in the Cotton Bowl against No. 3 Texas (10-1-0) on New Year's Day.

Maryland has a total of 270 tackles and 201/2 sacks during his four years with the Hurricanes, a period in which they have a 43-4 record.

Pro scouts projected Maryland as a first-round choice if he left school to enter the draft last spring, but he chose to remain at Miami, saying that he wanted to help the Hurricanes win the national title and try to win the Outland Trophy himself.

While Miami has only an outside chance at the final No. 1 ranking, Maryland has accomplished the second of his goals.

"It's all worth it," he said of his decision to stay in school. "I have no regrets that I stayed."