By: Lily Blum – Media Relations Student Assistant
Denzel Conyers was poised for a breakout year as one of the veteran defensive backs and leaders of Terps defense in 2016. However, the sound of an all-too-familiar knee pop abruptly ended his season during week three.
Maryland was playing at UCF, and Conyers being from Florida, had a lot of family at the game. He tried to hide the pain from those cheering for him in the stands.
It turned out to be a torn ACL in his right knee, an injury he sustained in his left knee while playing in high school. Conyers’s season was abruptly over.
“Knowing that there was a possibility that my collegiate career and NFL aspirations were coming to an end was definitely something that was running through my mind,” said Conyers.
Although there was no guarantee that the NCAA was going to grant Conyers a sixth year of eligibility to rejoin the Terps in 2017, Conyers rehabbed with the utmost intensity.
“I had to remain as positive as possible,” Conyers said.
At the same time that Conyers was rehabbing, his teammate and close friend, William Likely III was going through a similar rehab just weeks later.
“He was definitely a big part of my therapy and recovery process,” explained Conyers. “Both of us kept pushing each other during our physical therapy sessions and while hanging out just trying to remain as positive as possible through the whole process.”
Conyers was soon going to find out that all the months he spent rehabbing were going to pay off.
“I was in College Park,” Conyers remembered. “I decided not to go anywhere for spring break. I was in my room playing Madden with my cousin when I got a phone call and I see Cody Gambler’s name pop up on my screen.”
Gambler, an Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance, was calling to inform Conyers that the NCAA had granted him his sixth year of eligibility. He was going to be able play another year for the University of Maryland.
“I just started crying because when you invest so much time in something and it works out it really is something so special,” said Conyers. “Not everyone gets this opportunity so it is definitely something special.”
Conyers is prepared to take this ‘bonus year’ and do as much for the team as he possibly can.
“I plan to take on an even bigger leadership role this year,” said Conyers. “I have been given a challenge by the coaching staff to not only be a leader by my work ethic, but also being a vocal leader.”
Being one of the oldest players on the team, many of the younger players look up to Conyers both as teammate and as a mentor.
“They might feel that the coaches are getting on them for something and I just tell them to try and take the message and learn from it,” Conyers explained. “Listen to what they are trying to say and trying to teach you.”
Football is not the only thing Conyers’ teammates come to him about. They often approach him for advice on personal issues.
“I always tell them to follow their heart, but to also be aware that every action has a consequence, some negative and some positive,” said Conyers.
With this opportunity given to so few players, Conyers is ready to do big things in 2017.