I think the big thing is this team is working very hard, Maryland head coach Randy Edsall said. They're very focused and know what they want to accomplish. I think what we have to do is we have to continue to work hard every day and if we do that, I think the results will speak for themselves.
First couple days of camp are a lot of running and a lot of agility, break the legs in again, senior All-American defensive end Joe Vellano said. You can work out all summer but there's definitely a different football conditioning. It's different.
Most of the players were out on the field practicing with the team, participating in position workouts and competing in 11-on-11 drills. Some players worked out by themselves apart from the team, including junior defensive end Justin Anderson and freshman wide receiver Levern Jacobs, who both failed the conditioning test given Monday morning to all the players.
They didn't finish it, guess what, Edsall said. They won't practice until I feel they're capable of being able to finish a practice. You can't finish a conditioning test, there's no sense to have you on the field practicing until we feel like you can finish a conditioning test or finish a whole practice.
Sophomore kicker and holder Michael Tart suffered a foot injury over the summer while working a job, according to Edsall. The MRI results came back negative, Edsall said, but the coaches and trainers will need to give Tart time to heal before he can practice again.
There's no tear there so they'll just continue to treat him until he's able to come back out and do anything, said Edsall. He can hold right now but he can't do any of the kicking.
Sophomore defensive end Ian Evans was also missing from practice. Edsall revealed that earlier in the day, Evans approached him in his office and said that he had decided to leave the university due to personal issues.
Some of the players appeared to be a bit out of shape and were monitored carefully by the trainers. Sophomore defensive end Andre Monroe was seen being carted off after practice, though Edsall said that there was no injury to Monroe. Sophomore wide receiver Marcus Leak suffered some cramps as well, according to Edsall.
We got some guys that just probably aren't in as good of shape as they should be and a little bit dehydrated, said Edsall. Listen, it's camp. It's hot and humid here this area this time of year, so you have some guys that, like I said, aren't in as good of shape as they should be and some guys, we've got to teach them again how to hydrate themselves and take care of themselves and that's what I talked about then at the end of practice.
Sophomore defensive end Keith Bowers was also having troubles, according to Edsall. Bowers missed most of the spring training earlier this year with heart palpitations and his condition will need to be monitored as he gets back to full strength.
Keith's one of those guys who just wants to do well, Edsall said. He's got as good a motor as I've been around and that's one of the reasons why he goes hard all the time. That's why he's got to do a better job of taking care of himself and hydrating and all those things because he doesn't have a lot of fat on him and I think he lost five pounds last night looking at the charts. So we've got to make sure he's got to make sure that he's a guy that just goes hard all the time. There's a spot for him and he's battling Andre [Monroe] and both those guys are going to be guys who play. I like Keith.
Keith's thing is he works hard everyday, Vellano said. He comes out and he probably sold out all the agility drills in the beginning and didn't get enough water or something. Keith will be good and he really does work hard everyday and he's definitely a guy that will help us out down the road.
Another player of note was senior linebacker Kenny Tate who missed most of last season with a knee injury and sat out spring training to recover from an offseason surgery. Edsall reported that Tate, Vellano and senior receiver Kevin Dorsey will all only participate in one practice during two-a-days, but he expects Tate to be just as good as he was before the injury, if not better.
I would hope he would have a better-than-normal Kenny Tate type of season, Edsall said. I think with the things we want to do defensively, I think the opportunities for him are going to be there so we have high expectations. What I've seen in two days, I see a guy that's moving very, very well and handling everything very well, talking to him after each practice and asking him how he feels, talking to the trainers, we don't see any issues there. Then you watch him run around here and you don't see any complications or anything.
The preseason training camp will help the coaches order the depth chart as they look at the performances of the different players. With a strong freshmen class coming in, there could be a lot of shuffling on the depth chart once the regular season gets nearer, but Edsall is very satisfied with the level of team play and the discipline of his squad which only had 49 penalties for 434 yards last season to their opponents' 64 penalties for 547 yards.
I'm looking for who's going to step up at certain positions and take hold of positions that we know we have open and I'm looking for consistency in the units working together, said Edsall. The offense getting their timing down on the routes, the running plays, all those things. The thing I think is good is we haven't made many procedure penalties and offsides and things like that the first two days. That tells me that there's a level of concentration that is good. But really, just trying to figure it all out in terms of who's going to play where and where they are in the depth chart and getting it consistent in terms of what we need to get done in all phases.
Among the freshmen are the highly recruited offensive weapons from Our Lady of Good Counsel in tailback Wes Brown, wide receiver Stefon Diggs and offensive tackle Mike Madaras. Regardless of how highly they were ranked coming out of high school, all freshmen find themselves at the bottom of the depth chart and will have to prove to the coaching staff their worth on the team.
We've got 30-plus guys, Vellano said. There's a lot of new faces. There's a lot of guys that are new energy, you know, those guys come here to work too and those guys want to play more as anybody as well, just kind of coming in, got to make a name for themselves too. I think that's a good thing for the program, pushes the older guys as well.
Two freshmen quarterbacks in Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe will be competing to be junior quarterback C.J. Brown's backup next season. The quarterbacks could be called on during the regular season in the event Brown is injured. Every single Maryland quarterback to start the season in the past five years has suffered a season-ending injury, and Brown's running style makes it more likely for the trend to continue so the freshmen must be prepared.
I have been really pleased with what I've seen in the freshmen quarterbacks in terms of the willingness, what they've been able to learn so far, their competitiveness, the coach-ability, Edsall said. Now we just have to see if that can continue once the pads get on and now becomes a much more physical game for them just within the shorts.
Training camp has just started and practices will become more intense as the players prepare for the regular season opener against William & Mary on Sept. 1. Edsall realizes that these early practices will be rough and looks forward to seeing how the players will do when they put on pads in practice.
The thing is, it's good to get back out here and there's going to be mistakes, Edsall said. Tomorrow, we put the pads on but it was better today than it was yesterday, which is what you expect. But again, you really don't like to say too many things because guys know I've always said everyone's an All-American in shorts, so now when we put the pads in and move on, we'll see who can maintain that consistent level and practice in that now.