COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The Maryland football got a reprieve from preseason camp Monday as the Terps held their annual media day at Gossett Football Team House.
Maryland has held eight workouts already this preseason and is scheduled to for 21 more prior to the season opener against James Madison at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 30 at 3:30 p.m.
The Terps spent the afternoon posing for team photos and meeting with members of the media to discuss the upcoming season. Following the morning photo session, head coach Randy Edsall held a press conference with reporters at 3 p.m., followed by media availability with the players and assistant coaches.
Quotes from Edsall, offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, defensive coordinator Brian Stewart and selected student-athletes follow.
Head Coach Randy Edsall
“Evan Mulrooney was released from the hospital just now, just came into the facilities. I talked to him for a little bit before I came in here. He looks good, he had a viral infection. I don’t know what it was, but he’ll be out for an extended period of time until the doctors clear him, however long that will be we don’t know, but hopefully first and foremost he gets healthy and then once the time comes he’s able to get out there with us and he’ll be out there but not until he’s cleared 100 percent to be able to do those things.
“Quinton Jefferson is still with his wife as they are finding out exactly the issues she might have. I spoke to Quinton today and he’s in good spirits, but in our program it’s all about their faith first and foremost and then the family, then academics, then football and then the social so our thoughts and prayers are with him and his wife and his family and hopefully everything works out well from that standpoint.
“Looking forward to fan appreciation day on Saturday. Give our fans a chance to come out and watch us scrimmage and then also get a chance to interact with our players afterwards, get some autographs. I know our guys are really looking forward to that, they like spending time with all the people who come to support them and watch them so we’re looking forward to Saturday.
“And then lastly we have a new website MarylandPride.com. It’s a really interesting website, giving people an inside look, supporters, recruits, an inside look to what goes on here. What goes on in the life of a student-athlete, goes behind closed doors, be able to see the camaraderie, the love these guys have for each other and just the demands they have on them as student-athletes and how they manage their time and what they do and they’re very appreciative of all the people who support them so if people get a chance to check that out, there’s going to be things up there new each and every day. A lot of content that we think will be really good for people to get to know more about our student-athletes and our football program.
“Been pleased with the first eight practices that we’ve had. Seen a lot of improvement but also know that we still have a lot of work to do before our first game. There are some things that are starting to become a little bit clearer in regards to our team and what we’ve got to do now is a little bit more difficult than last week because we have a two-a-day on Tuesday and Thursday. So, we have two this week and again we’ve got a couple things we have to install that now what we have to get down to is the precision and the timing, especially offensively, with the guys that we feel will be in there playing. We’ve stayed pretty healthy. Sean Christie is a young man who will have surgery at some point in time on his knee, talked about Evan, we just have some guys that have some bumps and bruises, which you get in camp, but other than that nothing from a serious nature.”
On defensive back Denzel Conyers and possible position changes:
“Denzel got back Saturday night and then he did work out yesterday. It’s good to have him back. He was very appreciative to be able to go home and he needed to go home for his family situation. Don’t really want to get into any position changes because if there are going to be some position changes, I haven’t spoken to the players yet. I’ve got some meetings after this today, so as you come to practice tomorrow you’ll see some things that have taken place based on what has transpired in the first eight practices. I want to caution you just to say that the changes that we make or you see some things in the depth chart as you come out to practice tomorrow, that’s where we are after eight practices. We still have time to go with preseason and guys will still have an opportunity to move up or down based on their performances.”
On offensive lineman Andrew Zeller:
“We’re really pleased with what he’s doing so far. On the offensive line, he’s a young man that we expect to be a leader for us. He’s getting better as he continues to improve his technique. And that’s the biggest thing that we’re harping on him about. When he is technically sound he is very, very good, but when he has some flaws in his technique, he just becomes average. He works hard each and every day, he’s got a great attitude. Somebody that you can count on, he’s going to be there every day. Knows how to fight through the little things. Really pleased with where he’s at. What we have to do is just kind of get him to that next level. And he sees it and he knows it, in terms of the things he has to do and he’s working extremely hard to improve upon that.”
On the competition at running back:
“I’ve been impressed with Brandon Ross. I think Brandon is having a good fall. He put the ball on the ground a couple times, but since the last time he hasn’t done that. He understands ball security. Brandon is better as a pass blocker, has good hands and is being productive out there.
“Albert [Reid] is steady as Albert always is. Albert gives you everything that he has. He knows everything, his assignments. He’s a leader, hard-nosed.
Jacquille [Veii] brings a lot of energy, enthusiasm, has the skill set, the ability. And again just trying to perfect all his assignments.
‘Wes [Brown], you can see that the time away for him was something that he’s still getting back into the swing of things. But again, he’s a tough, downhill runner that again just has to be more efficient and more affective with executing all the things he’s being asked to do as a running back.”
On Sunday’s scrimmage:
“I thought we had a better day yesterday. There were some things that we did in the scrimmage that were better. And again, I think it’s that those guys, just working together, getting those reps together and everybody just doing their job. That’s the biggest thing that everybody has to understand. Everybody just has to do their job to the best of their ability. But again the things that they do on their own in the summer time in terms of the seven-on-seven and those sort of things is great, but it’s totally different than what we’re going to do when we start practice. And you can just see the guys start to make more improvement with each practice and like I said I thought yesterday was better, again a step in the right direction and again I think this week as we continue to go we’ll continue to make that progress.”
On the progress of quarterback C.J. Brown:
The thing with C.J. [Brown] is just continually doing all the things his job requires. We want him to be more decisive on his decision-making. We want him to understand that when he sees things to utilize all parts of his repertoire to get the job done. That means his arms, his legs, all those things. And really as I told him, this is his team that he needs to just go and take more charge of what’s going on out there. But he’s better than he was in the spring. And again, we’ve got to understand that we have a very high level of expectation for our players and we’re not going to be satisfied with just being average. We as coaches, and even the players, they want to be the best they can be and the biggest thing is we always have to focus and concentrate on those little things and those are more of the things that we got to get C.J. to just always be cognizant of. Be a little bit more decisive and also understand to utilize whatever the defense gives you. If that means taking off and running with it, if it means throwing it, whatever it is. Do it and don’t hesitate.”
On the team’s preparation this year compared to last year:
“I think every year is a different year. We’re older, we’re more mature, we’re stronger, and those guys are bigger. I’ll give you an example, Matt Robinson, this is the first time he’s ever been able to lift weights in the summer time because he hadn’t been injured and you can see the difference in him and again when you have more mature guys and older guys they understand what they’re going to be up against and they understand that what you have to do in order to compete against the schedule that we have.”
On the progress of tight end Derrick Hayward:
“Derrick [Heyward] is doing well. And again that thing you have to understand about Derrick, he’s just a redshirt freshman. He’s just a young kid, he’s a young guy that’s getting better. He wants to be good, he works hard. He still makes some mistakes, which we understand that. But I like how he’s working, I like the things that he’s doing. And again everybody, we try to tell the kids this. It’s a process what they’re going through. They all want to come in here and start and play as freshman, but there’s a process that you have to go through when you come from high school to college. Some of the challenges that we have as coaches is to get these guys to understand that they’re not failures if they come in here and they don’t play right away because they were the superstars in high school and for some guys it’s going to take a little bit longer. And they have five years to complete four years of eligibility and you want them to come in and make sure that they understand what the Maryland pride way is and what you have to do. Derrick is a young man who is doing all those things that we do. He’s not going to be the finished product as a redshirt freshman. He’s making great progress and he’s going to continue to make progress because of the type of young man he is.”
On the depth along the defensive and offensive lines:
“Well on the defensive line, you look at Malik Jones and if you take a look at his picture when he first got here then look where he is now, you can tell that he’s been working very hard. He’s put on weight, but again I like where we are right now and we’ve got Malik and Spencer [Myers]. Spencer Myers is doing some really good things out there. He’s caught the attention of everybody and he’ll have the opportunity to work with the one’s tomorrow, but its great competition, that’s the biggest thing. Then on the other side, you’ve got Andre Monroe and behind him you’ve got Roman [Braglio]. Roman is just a fierce competitor and he goes out there ready to compete and does everything he can to earn more playing time. You’ve got Keith [Bowers] and Darius [Kilgo] at nose guard. Who I’ve been impressed with and our coaching staff has been impressed with is David Shaw and what we’ve seen out of him. Kingsley [Opara] is also doing a good job so we’ve got competition, which always makes everyone better. On the defensive line we have depth.
“On the offensive line, when you look at it, we don’t have as much depth as we’d like to. I mean, Michael Dunn is having a really good preseason. Again, we’ve got to get him to be more technically sound. He’s very conscientious, does the things we ask him, he’s smart, we moved him to the left side and he didn’t have any problems, he had a great scrimmage yesterday. Of course, you’ve got Sal [Conaboy] in there at center, Andy Zeller at right guard, and Ryan Dunn was moved from left to right and it seems like much more of a natural fit for him. Then behind him, Jake Wheeler, he’s been playing his best football since he’s been here at Maryland, the left tackle. He’s got a lot of mobility, he’s still learning how to play the game, but he’s doing great. Then you’ve got JaJuan Dulaney at guard, Steve Grommer, and another guy is Brendan Moore, the freshman center and Damian [Prince] has got all the tools. You watch all these guys come in and again; part of the process is trying to get the kids up to speed to become technical offensive linemen. We’re going to be a lot younger on the offensive line, so those young guys will face a challenge and hopefully everybody will stay healthy and we’ll be ready.”
On the wide receivers:
“Well to be truthful, we’ve got a lot we need to work on with the receiving corps. The two guys that I’ve been the most impressed with at the receiving corps so far are Levern Jacobs and Taivon Jacobs. Those are the guys that I think have practiced the best so far when we’ve practiced. They’ve all worked very hard and the truth is that we’re not looking for receivers who only catch the ball around here. This isn’t flag football or 7-on-7. We’ve got to have complete receivers and our receivers have to make sure they listen to Keenan [McCardell] and that they do what he asks them to do. With the talent that they have, they can be very good. However, we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
On the status of wide receiver Deon Long:
“From what I’m being told, he should be back out there tomorrow, and again, what I just said about the receivers includes him.”
On the biggest challenge joining the Big Ten:
“They may have some bigger offensive linemen or people that run the ball a little bit more. A lot of teams run the spread, I know Indiana does and Ohio State runs a version of it so again, we’ve seen all of those things, it’s not like we haven’t seen them. We’ve played against good teams before. Again, what we’ve got to do is get ourselves as good as we can be and we know that in college football we’re going to go against good people week in and week out, but what we’ve got to do is make sure we take care of ourselves and that we do the things that are necessary to put ourselves in a position to allow us to compete and win, and go against the schedule we’re going to go against.”
On the talent at the safety position:
“I think Sean Davis has made tremendous growth, he’s a hard worker, a guy you need to tell to back off. He spent a lot of time in the film room to get better. From what we’ve seen out of Sean, I believe he’s focused, he’s ready to have a great year. You can watch a guy on the practice field and understand how much they get it or not based on how much they talk. You can feel and see that Sean’s confident, he’s focused, he’s playing fast and I’m really proud of him in terms of how he really went out and attacked it. Anthony [Nixon] is ‘Steady Eddie’ back there, we’re trying to get him to talk a little more. He’s been very, very steady for us back there.”
On defensive lineman David Shaw:
“He’s got natural strength and natural ability and he’s really quick off of the ball. That’s the thing that really attracted me to him when watching just how quick he was on high school tapes and just to watch him work and how he pursues the ball and comes to the ball. But again, we’ve got two guys in front of him who are seniors including Keith Bowers. We’re going to try to get David in there as soon as possible but again, I wouldn’t count on seeing him on the kickoffs or playing on the special teams. We’ve got to try and do everything we can to get him ready. We don’t have any injuries right now, but if we do, he’s a guy we’d call upon if he keeps it up.”
On if he has communicated with Dexter McDougle since the injury:
“I texted him. I didn’t get a chance to call him. We were texting back and forth. I just feel so bad for him. He was playing well and doing a good job, but I just told him that you’ve been through this before, you’ll come back stronger. I touched on this earlier, but with the defensive backs, you can see that camaraderie and I’d probably say that they’re our tightest group. Those guys were in the film room watching a ton of film when we’d walk by and they enjoy each other and I think a lot of that was because of Dexter. What people don’t understand about the game is the relationships we build. I talked to Dexter, Marcus Whitfield, who’s doing well with the Jags, and Joe [Vellano] was here the other day. We saw the video of A.J. Francis doing the ice bucket challenge. He’s a big man so it took three buckets to cover him, but that’s just what we do. They may frustrate you a bit, but the relationships you build with these guys make you feel very, very special.”
Offensive Coordinator Mike Locksley
On the progress of the offense so far:
“The first week on offense you always tend to be behind, it’s always been that way. However, I thought that in yesterday’s scrimmage we took a step forward on offense; things were going well. We are trying to develop the running game and find the chemistry up front. We have to get healthy guys out there in the receiver spot. Guys have been in and out, so we haven’t been able to start the chemistry between the one’s and two’s that you look for early in camp.”
On the depth at wide receiver:
“I just use the different personnel groupings. Obviously, you only have five offensive linemen and one quarterback so we need to find who our best five skill players are. I look back at my first year here, we were a 12-personnel team with two tight ends and one running back, and then last year we were an 11-personnel with a tight end and three wides. As long as long as they are matching that potential of production it is safe to say that you may see us in more spread sets.”
On the competition at tight end:
“That’s the thing with our offense, we are very multiple; you’ll never see us line up with one personnel group. Our tight ends are big, tall, athletic targets. P.J. Gallo does what he does very well, Andrew Isaacs and Derrick Hayward have different skill sets. You will see us play players in certain situations where they have specific roles based on what their skill is.”
On the competition at running back:
“After one week, there’s no doubt that we are fortunate to have four talented guys. I think Brandon Ross has had a good camp thus far. Albert Reid, Jacquille Veii and Wes Brown all have done some things well. As far as separating themselves, nobody has done a “bang-up” job and showed us that one is head and shoulders better than the next guy. I’m hoping that in the next few weeks we get a chance to see who that guy is so we can get him the ball and get him to make plays.”
Defensive Coordinator Brian Stewart
On whether the recruiting strategy has changed with the move to the Big Ten:
“I mean my recruiting area hasn’t changed. As far as the type of athlete we’re looking for that really hasn’t changed. We’re still looking for big 3-4 defensive linemen, outside linebackers that can rush off the edge, like DeMarcus Ware type guys. As far as defensive backs, like everybody else we’re looking for guys who attack the ball.”
On if there has been any change in the game plan because of the move to the Big Ten:
“No, fortunately the core of our defense has stayed the same. As far as making the adjustments and being prepared for games it’s going to be the same as it was during my first year on staff. We’re doing work on pressure defense predicated on stopping the run and forcing a lot of turnovers.”
Quarterback C.J. Brown
On what he thinks he’s improved on during his time at Maryland:
“Obviously everybody knows I can run, but I’ve just tried to get more consistent in the passing game, making the right reads, being more consistent in my overall game. As a quarterback, you want to know what you’re getting each and every time I step onto the field and that’s really what I tried to improve on.”
On what he’s focused on improving during this year’s training camp:
“I mean just understanding the down and distance. Understanding when to take off and run, when to check it down, and when to take those chances. I’ve used my experiences in practice and in games to help me and also knowing our guys and which matchups we’re playing has helped me out as well. So I think using those experiences are important and I try to take advantage of them.”
Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs
On how the offense has worked to get better during training camp:
“We’ve done a lot of good things and we’ve had some things where we think we can be better. We’re trying to focus on the good things that we did and also trying to figure out how we can get better and more detailed at everything that we do. The good is always going to be the good, but the bad is what we’re always trying to change.”
On the expectations of the receiving corps entering the Big Ten:
“We don’t pay attention to that at all. We just have to put the work in to fulfill those expectations. If we don’t produce it doesn’t matter. We just need to get better each and every day and bring a positive attitude.”
Defensive Back Jeremiah Johnson
On the current mood of the team heading into its first Big Ten season:
“I feel like were just ready to play football. There’s been no big changes I’ve experienced. Obviously, we’re going in a lot of eyes are going to be on us because it’s our first year in the conference, but you know I think that we’ve prepared the same and of course we’ve pushed ourselves harder. But we haven’t really changed much of who we are.”
Defensive Lineman Darius Kilgo
On what kind of team Maryland fans can expect this season:
“Fans can expect a complete team this season. That’s one thing we want to focus on, being a complete team, being a complete offense and a complete defense. Just coming out and executing our jobs, I believe if we can do that we can pretty much surprise a lot of people.”