In 2012, Maryland had just four interceptions. This year, the Terps matched that total in their first two games of the season. The first interception took place in the season-opener and three followed against Old Dominion in week two. On September 14, senior cornerback Dexter McDougle continued the charge. He picked off Connecticut quarterback Chandler Whitmer on the Huskies second series of the game and again in the third quarter, taking the pick 49 yards to the end zone to seal the win for the Terps.
McDougle wouldn't get a chance to pick off Whitmer again; little did he know that on the next series the Terps most seasoned veteran would lunge to make a tackle and come down, clutching his shoulder. His facial expression morphed into the look of excruciating pain as he tried to shield his face from the small group of medical trainers that surrounded him. After several gut-wrenching minutes of anguish, McDougle was finally able to get to his feet, and buttressed by Maryland's medical team he slowly hobbled off the field and was hurried to the locker room.
On Sunday during his regular conference call Maryland coach Randy Edsall announced McDougle would need to under-go surgery on his shoulder, a surgery that will not only end McDougle's season but also his career.
"It saddens me that I have to announce that Dexter McDougle will be out for the remainder of the year with a shoulder injury. He will having surgery at some time next week or some time very, very soon," Edsall said. "You have five years to complete four years of eligibility and his first year he was redshirted, so to get a sixth year you have to miss two full seasons due to injury."
McDougle has started in 27 games straight games at Maryland, and was off to the best start of his career, highlighted by his two interceptions and first career pick-six against the Huskies on Saturday.
"[He] put us in a position to go up14, when we were struggling to get that two touchdown lead to hopefully put them [UConn] away," Edsall said of McDougle's performance. "For him to make that pick was a great play and to run it in for a touchdown was something."
If there is any light in his unfortunate situation, it could be that McDougle went down in a way any athlete would hope to, fighting.
"I told our team today, the one thing we talk about is playing every play like it's the last play you are every going to play," Edsall said. "As he [McDougle] went up there to make that tackle and that hit, he was playing his tail off and giving everything he had."
McDougle only needs to complete one class to graduate, but he will likely be spending much more time in the classroom as he helps usher along players such as, Will Likely, Jarrett Ross, and Alvin Hill, who will be expected to be major contributors in the secondary.
"I told him he will go on all the trips with us and he's gotta be kind of a coach for us with some of these young guy that will be playing. We want to keep him involved and support him in anyway we can through this process," Edsall said. "He will sit in on the meetings and continue to keep his mind sharp and learn more football."
Not only will Maryland's young corners have to fill in for McDougle, the Terps are still without their other starting cornerback Jeremiah Johnson, who fractured his left toe against FIU in week one.
"Its part of the game it happens [and you have] no control over it. I don't like [it] whenever you have injuries to young people who are out there doing all the things they can to play this great game," Edsall said. "We just have to have the next guy step up and get in there and play and that's all we can do. In this game your going to have injuries, you just hope you don't have to many of them."
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