Terrapin Captains Talk Upcoming Season

Maryland footbal captains share their thoughts on the program's direction and the upcoming season.

On Monday, the four football captains for the 2012 Maryland Terrapins, junior quarterback C.J. Brown, senior wide receiver Kevin Dorsey, senior linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield and senior All-American defensive end Joe Vellano shared their thoughts on the new offense and defense, the new field, the incoming freshmen and newer players and the need for senior leadership for the young team.

One hot topic that was discussed was the maturation of Brown as not only a quarterback, but also as the leader of the team. Last season, Edsall switched 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year Danny O'Brien and Brown around for games and eventually in between drives. O'Brien transferred in the offseason to the Big 10 Conference to play for the Wisconsin Badgers, leaving Brown as the only quarterback with experience at the college level next season. Freshmen Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe are the only other quarterbacks eligible to play and Ricardo Young will have to sit out the season due to NCAA transfer requirements.

“I think just being put in that position that it was last year, it was difficult for both of us,” Brown said. “We both made the most of the opportunity we could and it was difficult going week to week, but coming into camp this year, I feel confident. It doesn't take any less pressure off of me. I still put a lot of pressure on myself, and you know, me and Coach Locksley talked, he's going to push me and that's what I expect. I wouldn't think anything else just because I am the starting quarterback right now but I still got to go out there and work my tail off and go out there and compete and show what I can do.”

His teammates agreed that Brown is really pushing himself to become the leader of the team and to prove to the players, both returning and new, that he is capable of leading this team in the right direction.

“The first thing I noticed was day one when we came back from the winter session and we were working out, I noticed through every sprint drill, C.J. was coming in first,” Dorsey said. “You could see he kind of put it on his shoulders, this is his team, that he can step up to the plate and get the job done. I saw that from day one and he hasn't stopped and he's been consistent all summer. He's been consistent even with the little runs we did this morning just to get guys back into it. I'll know he'll definitely have a good year. He'll show people he can not only run but he can pass too and he can make the proper decisions and lead the team to where we need to be.”

A big concern for the coaching staff and fans is Brown's durability during the season. He managed to stay healthy last season, but one has to wonder how long Brown can stay injury-free with his scrambling style of play. With two inexperienced freshmen behind him, an injury to the starting quarterback could be very devastating to the young team. Brown, however, is trying not to think about that possibility.

“Right now, I'm not really trying to think about that,” Brown said. “I've worked extremely hard this offseason maintaining my body, put on mass, put on muscle, just continuing to work on my game. Anytime you think about getting hurt or playing a different way than you're used to, you're going to be more prone to injury. Maybe I'll be smarter about not taking a big hit or getting down, but I don't think I'm going to change my playing style that's got me to where it's got me today. I think I can only do what I do and that's just the way I play. I'm not going to try to change how I play just because injuries are a part of the game and if that's going to happen, maybe it was meant to be, but hopefully that's not the place.”

New offensive coordinator Mike Locksley will be looking to inject the Terrapin offense with new life after failing to put enough points up on the board in many games last season. With the new pro-style offense and what looks to be a very talented and young wide receiver and running back corps, Brown and the other captains are excited about Locksley and his new coaching schemes.

“Coach Locksley's bringing a lot of experience, a lot of enthusiasm,” said Brown. “Me, myself and the whole offense is really excited. We had a great spring. We got most of the offense in. Right now, we just want to continue to flourish in the offense. I think the biggest difference is probably the tempo, but also, we're a pro-style offense that has this spread option and stuff like that. We're a very dynamic offense. We're going to get the ball to our playmakers and make sure they can be put in charge to make plays.”

The defense will also be getting a makeover as the defensive unit will transition into a 3-4 defense under defensive coordinator Brian Stewart. The change will see Vellano make the change from defensive tackle to defensive end next season. Vellano is not too worried about the change and will still see some action at the tackle position, depending on the play. He said that is optimistic about the defense's performance this year, especially with ten players returning and the amount of depth with young and experienced players.

“The way Coach Stewart starts it, he likes to get after it and he likes to have fun and everybody on the defensive side really bought in and just was kind of getting ready last night,” Vellano said. “Pressure defense, he runs a lot of different stuff. He's going to change week to week on their personnel and we're going to be smart about it and use our strengths and go after their weakness. We've got a lot of depth and a lot of guys who've played many positions, a lot of guys who can rush the passer and really make plays.”

Hartsfield echoed Vellano's thoughts about the new 3-4 defense's ability to create pressure with the element of surprise.

“The biggest thing that Coach Stewart talked to us about is the 3-4 scheme, you don't know where people are coming from,” Hartsfield said. “'Will' could be coming, 'Sam,' 'Mike,' 'Mo,' you never know. All seven could be coming. That's the biggest thing, is disguising what you're going to do.”

This offseason, Maryland picked up one of the best recruiting classes that they have had in a while, headlined with the trio of players from Our Lady of Good Counsel, wide receiver Stefon Diggs, running back Wes Brown and offensive lineman Mike Madaras, amongst many other newcomers who are looking to make an impact. The freshmen may not have had much time to learn the system and the workings of Terrapin football, but they have already started making a good impression on the veteran players.

“I would say that since the freshmen have come in, I think that not only Diggs, but a lot of the freshmen really bought in and extremely worked hard, showed up on time, listened to what the older guys have and followed,” C.J. Brown said “They've been attentive, they've asked questions and done what they need to do and I think that guys like Diggs, they're very explosive, but at the end of the night, we can only do so much during the summer with player practices and seven-on-sevens and things like that. We've seen him in the open space, we know what he can do, but everyone wants to see once you get the pads on, that's when players are going to separate themselves.”

Maryland head coach Randy Edsall mentioned that on the 2012 team, 68 percent of the players are freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores. Edsall will be leaning on the veteran leadership of his seniors to teach the younger players both on and off the field, something that Dorsey and the rest of the captains are learning to do.

“I'd say definitely there's pressure,” Dorsey said. “And it's not just something I personally put on myself, but there's pressure on everyone else around me. It's a pressure that makes sure everyone's on the same page and makes sure everyone's fighting everyday, grinding to get that little extra percent to make that difference. So you know, fourth quarter, you need to finish, you need to have that wind to be where you need to be and get the job done. I can say for myself that it's being a better leader for the team, doing what I can to get guys in, find out what motivates guys to really get them going. Every single person's different, you can't treat every situation the same. Some people, you may need to yell at some people, you need to pull them aside. I'd say that's the biggest thing I've learned and I need to change.”

Vellano agreed, saying that there was no special formula for building up a team. Regardless of how young the team is, everyone on the team will need to work together and and compete at the highest level, according to Vellano.

“The thing is, there's not secrets, really,” Vellano said. “Just go out and work as hard as we can and we're the best as we can come together as. We're going out there tonight and starting it off strong.”

To instill in his seniors his message of leadership, Edsall called a seniors' meeting Sunday night after the players reported to camp. His message was simple, but it left an impression on Dorsey and the rest of the seniors and captains.

“The meeting last night, it was just him telling us, 'Coach-driven teams are good teams but player-driven teams are great teams' and that was the main focus,” Dorsey said. “Not only for us four captains but for all of us seniors as well to pretty much lead this team to wherever we want to go. We want to go to the ACC Championship, it's going to be up to those seniors to lead the younger guys to that direction.”

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