COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- When Maryland senior guard Silvano Altamirano -- generously listed at 6-feet-2, 290-pounds -- walked into the interview area of Tyser Tower on Aug. 26 in his red Terps polo shirt, collar buttoned high, he almost could have passed for a student assistant, not a Big Ten "big nasty."
Altamirano, one of the more pleasant surprises of fall camp stories at College Park this month, rising to the starting left guard spot with junior veteran Evan Mulrooney stricken with a viral infection and depth an issue to begin with, indeed is an unassuming guy.
The former junior college transfer, who had scarcely registered a blip on the playing time radar in two years at College Park, may have been one of the most consistent of Terps offensive linemen all month long, and now has a coveted starting spot as the Terps enter Big Ten play. But like his "Left Coast," Southern California roots, Altamirano is as laid-back as they come.
"You know it's funny, because he is more like an Australian in the sense of how he is so 'chill,'" said none other than Terps junior Aussie kicker Brad Craddock of the San Diego native Altamirano, who attended San Diego Mesa College before transferring to Maryland. "I know a lot of people that are going, going all the time, but he is just like take things in stride, chills out. It's funny, to me he's like Australian laid-back."
Terps senior defensive end Andre Monroe, who has seen his share of Altamirano in the trenches, said the quiet "team guy" has a different disposition on the field.
"He's a very aggressive guy. And I think one of the best things he does is his work with his hands," Monroe said. "I think that is something he has been improving on since he got here, and willing himself to become a better player, which as you can see has helped him out. He just keeps them real tight, keeps 'em low, and he's able to get inside because as everyone knows in the game of football, if you can keep your hands inside then you can have control."
Off the field, Monroe sees an even better individual back in the dorms away from the game.
"Away from the field, very chill," Monroe said. "Very nice guy, very concerned about the next person, and just fun to be around."
Monroe said anytime someone needs something to cook with, clean with, Altamirano always steps up and loans teammates things or helps out. He lives upstairs two floors from him and roommates Taivon and Levern Jacobs and Clarence Murphy.
"Most people are like, 'Nah, I am using it right now,' or, 'No, I am hesitant to give.' But he always wants to help people out," Monroe said.
Fittingly, Altamirano said he feels for Mulrooney, who missed all but one day of camp and was hospitalized and is still sidelined. The JMU season opener will mark Altamirano's first career start at Maryland.
"I wish Evan would have been out there," Altamirano said. "He's a great guy, great player, so being able to compete with him would have made things a whole lot better. It would have been better for both of us, bring out the best in both of us. So it's great he is on the way back now, and I can't wait for him to get back on the field."
Altamirano said he needs to keep working to keep his spot, while he said his work with his hands has been his greatest improvement in the last year. He said he was prepared last year, if starter De'Onte Arnett ever got hurt, but now he has got a chance. Arnett started every game last year, with Altamirano spot time as a reserve.
"I knew if I worked hard enough, did what I was supposed to, do it the right way, I would have a chance," Altamirano said. "Mostly it was also the mental aspect too, like knowing where the defense was going to be, how they are going to react to a certain block, and my footwork. Just keep driving my feet."
The Terps' new left guard shies away from the limelight, and Aug. 26 was his first big media opportunity of the season, let alone career, so far. He said he gets his modesty and work ethic from his family, "trying to be the best that I can be," and looks up to his father, who runs his own landscaping business in San Diego. Altamirano is the first Division I college student from his family.
His only break this summer was a few days back home once school ended in May. Fittingly, he hit the beach "and just chilled." He follows the San Diego Padres, San Diego Chargers and Los Angeles Lakers back home. He said he only gets butterflies during the first play of games, and should be fine once the game starts flowing this weekend at Byrd.
Said Terps head coach Randy Edsall Aug. 26:
"I just think with Silvano, he saw the opportunity, was ready to compete even with Evan if Evan was healthy. And the one thing I was impressed by was the fact when Evan got hurt, I didn't see a guy just say, 'OK, it's my spot now,' basically because Evan got hurt. I saw a guy go out there and really try to get better and work really, really hard each and every day. And by doing that I thought he enhanced his own position and I thought he got better individually as a player."
Terps linebacker L.A. Goree said once Altamirano gets on you, he can lock you up with his improved technique and scrappy mentality.
"He's very stocky, you know. He gets ahold of you, he's going to hold you tight," Goree said. "He's going to punch you, linemen got something called punch. And if you are not on your 'Ps and Qs,' you are going to get punched 3-4 yards down the field. So he's physical, not dirty, but physical and precise."
As a unit, Altamirano said communication has improved greatly in camp along the offensive line, which has seen years of turnover and change and hopes to have finally found a formidable unit this fall as Big Ten play begins. Said Terps senior quarterback C.J. Brown of Altamirano and the group coming together:
"He has done a great job for us, the communication that we've had not only on the field but off the field in terms of the scheme, the stunts, the protections. And I think he has really bought in," Brown said, while admitting how quiet and modest Altamirano is.
Altamirano said he hopes his family can make it in from California for a few games this year. Family is the biggest thing to him, as he admits about himself that "there's not that much else interesting about me."
The criminal justice major hopes to land a job in law enforcement after his football days are over.
"It's that San Diego, that San Diego in him," quipped Goree of his laid-back teammate, who has made a statement this month in camp on the O-line. "Wherever there are palm trees, well you should be laid back."
Unassuming Altamirano Rises to the Challenge
TerrapinTimes Top Stories
Live Evaluation & Interview:Tayon Fleet-DavisCAPITOL HEIGHTS, Md. -- Potomac (Oxon Hill, Md.) traveled to Fairmont Heights (Capitol Heights, Md.) Sept. 24 for a Prince George’s County matchup. Terrapin Times was on hand to…
TerrapinTimesYesterday at 11:00 PM
Coaches Poll: Week 5Top 3 remains the same, Wisconsin jumps into top 10 after over Michigan State.
ScoutYesterday at 10:30 AM
TE Williams Dubs UM 'Team To Beat' Post VisitOWINGS MILLS, Md. – McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) hosted Canada Prep (St. Catharines, Ontario) Sept. 24. Terrapin Times was on hand to scout and interview Canada Prep tight end…
TerrapinTimesSaturday at 12:01 PM
Live Evaluation & Interview: Fofie BazzieCLARKSBURG, Md. -- Quince Orchard (North Potomac, Md.) cornerback Fofie Bazzie committed to Maryland April 3, and on Sept. 23 he and his teammates traveled to Clarksburg for a…
TerrapinTimesFriday at 11:44 PM
Bazzie Back On Track, All TerpsNORTH POTOMAC, Md. -- Before Quince Orchard's (North Potomac, Md.) game against Clarksburg (Md.) Sept. 23, Cougars' corner and Terps' pledge Fofie Bazzie talked about how he's…
TerrapinTimesFriday at 11:03 AM