By: Hunter Dortenzo – Media Relations Student Assistant
Damian Prince is now entering his third season playing for Maryland on the offensive front, and has made a home at the right tackle position in Walt Bell’s offense. On the outside, Prince looks like a 6-foot-3 gargantuan of a human being. “I’m kind of big,” in his own, subtle words.
Teammates have come to know him as a mature, humble, ultra-competitive leader. But, just three years ago those characteristics were mere seedlings yet to blossom – untapped potential in a promising young football player.
Three seasons removed from his esteemed role on the Terrapins, Prince was a highly-touted recruit. Ranked a five-star, No. 2 nationally at his position and No. 1 in the state of Maryland, he should have had everything to look forward to.
But that wasn’t always the case.
Upon committing to and enrolling at Maryland, Prince found himself confused, lost and overwhelmed – perplexed at the uncharted territory that was now his life and the unknowingness of what was coming. Not easy to imagine for a man of his stature and football pedigree. With the bigger stage comes bigger pressure. Prince endured that pressure. His first year of college – challenging classes, intense coaches and strenuous practices took its toll on him.
“It was extremely rough,” Prince said. “I was the first person in my family to go to college outside of my one aunt. There was really no one to tell me what I was getting into.”
That uncertainty and shock of the college football lifestyle intensified and blanketed Prince until he had to take a step back and reconsider everything.
“Is this really for me?” Prince asked himself, fully aware of his potential but unsure how to tap into it.
One thing, however, was that he knew this problem wasn’t just one within himself.
“I think with almost every football player that comes in, you always have that doubt in the back of your mind,” Prince explained. “Where you begin to doubt yourself, your situation, just everything…This is all just as much of a mental test as it is a physical test.”
Sticking with the program and bettering himself as a man and a football player has transformed him into who he is today.
“Thinking back on it now, I’m extremely proud of how far I’ve come,” Prince said. “The way I’ve handled certain situations is drastically different than the way I would have handled them when I first came to college at 18.”
The questions and the doubt Prince faced were countered by his form of a solution. He decided to take things one-by-one, set goals and achieve them on a consistent, yet upward basis.
Goals ranging from making the travel squad, to becoming a starter, to becoming a leader on the offensive line accrued in Prince’s mind. With those goals materialized, they marked steady points of improvement to make throughout his college career.
Sure enough, boxes started getting checked off, one-by-one.
His redshirt freshman year, Prince joined the travel squad and made six starts. Prince surpassed expectations and became a key part of the unit which proved to be a glimmering light that season.
Last year, his sophomore season, he started all 13 games. Prince, along with help from the rest of the offensive line, helped pave the way for a Maryland rushing offense that eclipsed 2,500 yards for the first time since 2003. Along with that, he started to feel himself becoming a leader on the team.
“I never really had anybody who put me under their wing, so I try to do that for the guys,” Prince said. “I’ve been there, I’ve been the freshman who didn’t know the plays. I’ve been the freshman late to a meeting. I’ve been the freshman who didn’t go to class and had to make everybody else run. They can expect me to be someone that they can look up to because I’ve grown from that and I know better now. I want to be that figure for anyone on the team who needs someone to look up to, someone that they can talk to.”
Now, as Prince enters his junior season with the Terrapins, he has set bigger individual goals.
“Like any big-time football player, you want to win championships for your team and be all-conference,” Prince said. “I want to be an All-American. I’m striving for a lot of big things. I want to show my family and young kids that anything is possible if you work hard.”
This season, you can be sure Prince will be as meticulous as ever – in practice, watching film and during games – crafting his game and continuing on the upward trend he has kept going since arriving on campus.