2009 Football Season Outlook - Part III
Aug. 7, 2009
The following is the third installment in a four-part series previewing the 2009 University of Maryland football team.
The Terrapins open fall practice on Monday in preparation for their season opener on Saturday, Sept. 5 (10 p.m.) at California.
Today's portion of the outlook previews the defensive line and linebackers.
Outlook Schedule on umterps.com: Overall Overview/Quarterbacks/Running Backs Monday, Aug. 3 Wide Receivers/Offensive Line/TEs Wednesday, Aug. 5 Secondary/Specialists Sunday, Aug. 9
Defensive LineThe Terps are youthful along the defensive line, but their two seniors will be counted on for leadership and production.
Navarre, an All-ACC pick last season, and Covington combined to start 91 games over the last four years, while Otulaja and Muhtadi were mainstays on the line in 2008.
After an injury-plagued 2008, Ivey emerged as the leader of this group in the spring.
"Travis was having a very good spring until he got hurt and missed the final week," Friedgen said. "We're going to be counting on him this season."
Ivey injured his foot in the preseason last year. He missed the first three games of 2008, but it took him a while to get on track. He capped the year with a career-high five tackles in the win over Nevada in the Humanitarian Bowl.
A.J. Francis, who nearly played as a true freshman last season, gives the Terps another big body on the interior of the line. He's atop the depth chart at nose tackle.
Davidson has not played but is in his third year in the program, while Vellano redshirted as a true freshman last year with a shoulder injury.
Kerr joined the team in the spring. He was a highly-touted recruit who attended Fork Union Military Academy last fall. He has a low center of gravity and should be helpful in stopping the running game.
Armstrong, a sophomore, saw extensive action last season, but sat out the spring to concentrate on his academics.
Harrell, who played in all 13 games last season, is expected to start at anchor, the defensive end position over the tight end in Brown's scheme.
"Jared really stepped up in the spring," Brown said. "He could probably play both end positions for us. He gives us some versatility. He is an excellent technician, he's more physical and his movement skills are solid."
Drummond, who enters the fall No. 1 on the depth chart, played the old LEO position (defensive end/outside linebacker) last season.
"Drummond is a very good pass-rusher," Brown said. "He needs to improve in his run-stopping ability but he's making the transition from a stand-up to a three-down guy. We feel good about where he's going."
Kabongo and Arnett were both highly recruited players. Kabongo sat out last season as a redshirt and Arnett came on board in the spring as a true freshman.
Brown was pleased with Arnett's progress.
"De'Onte is another guy in the mix for playing time," Brown said. "He's up to about 270 pounds and is a guy that just showed consistent improvement throughout the spring. We think his upside is off the charts."
LinebackerThe linebacking unit is among the youngest and most inexperienced on the team.
"I was concerned with the number of linebackers we lost last year," Friedgen said. "We had to hold guys out for the spring and thought depth would be a problem, but we had a couple of freshmen come in (Darin Drakeford and Avery Murray) and play exceptionally well."
Wujciak, who was second team All-ACC choice last season after posting 133 tackles, missed the spring while recovering from surgery, but is expected to man the middle and make plays.
Moten, a junior, has played in 23 career games and has been very productive. His 74 career tackles are third among players on the current roster, while his 7.0 sacks lead the team.
Moten can play all three linebacker positions, but is penciled in as the starter at Sam.
Ben Pooler is the only other member of this unit to see time in a game and that was for only a handful of snaps. Pooler also sat out the spring while recovering from the knee injury he suffered during last season.
Pooler will head into the preseason as a reserve at Will linebacker.
Junior Drew Gloster is expected to back up Wujciak. Gloster sat out last season and moved from tight end to linebacker in December, but saw extensive time in the spring with injuries to Wujciak and Pooler.
"Drew has tremendous upside," Brown said. "He has great size, but his ability to run sideline to sideline is very impressive. He is a very versatile athlete, so we think that's been a good move for us."
Redshirt freshman Demetrius Hartsfield is expected to start at Will linebacker. He enrolled early last season and nearly played as a true freshman, but the staff was able to hold his redshirt.
"Demetrius is probably one of the most improved guys on our football team," Brown said. "He was number one at Will all spring long and he played like it. I think he is going to be a guy who is going to be tough to move out of there."
The lone senior in the linebacking corps is Hakeem Sule, who has been mostly a special teams performer in his career. He'll serve as Hartsfield's backup.
Drakeford and Murray both entered school last spring and were thrown into the mix right away. Drakeford is a reserve at Sam linebacker, behind Moten, while Murray is penciled in as a reserve at Mike, but could play the two outside positions.
Sophomore Herbert Law also had an opportunity in the spring and will serve as a reserve at Will LB.