COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Here’s the thing: Maryland redshirt freshman right tackle Damian Prince, the former five-star and Under Armour All American recruit, is checking in at a “svelte” 320 pounds at Terps spring camp this month, his first.
Eight months ago, when he first reported to Maryland out of Bishop McNamara High School (Forestville, MD), Prince was so overweight that, well, he either broke the scale, or they tossed it in the dumpster out back under cover of night, never wanting to see those near-350-pound digits again.
Today, Prince, always a jovial sort regardless, takes it all in stride, and is happy to have his freshman baby fat mostly gone as he prepares to make a move for the starting job this fall as part of a new and improved wave of elite UMD linemen.
When asked last week of his weight last summer, Prince rolled his eyes and quipped, “Oh, man, I can’t even remember,” he said with a wink.
The 6-foot-3 Prince, still a massive man working to continue to reshape his backside and belly, oozes potential for a bright future indeed on the Maryland line, long a point of frustration unit for the program. With him possibly anchoring the right side in time, and former four-star and Under Armour All American tackle Derwin Gray on the left side, the coming wars in the Big Ten look more promising up front.
Randy Edsall praised the rookies after the fifth practice last week, including Prince, who toiled on scout team in the fall while Gray and Moore were closer to playing had there been more injuries. Edsall continues to rave about Moore, while he said with the weight loss Prince now can play a lot faster.
“Damian and Derwin.…Derwin has to understand at left tackle you got to be on all the time, you have to be exact,” Edsall said. “You have to have good technique; you have to use good fundamentals to play that position. And Damian, he is playing at a faster pace this year than he was last year. Guys are getting more comfortable.”
While Gray was slowed by shoulder surgery last year, not to mention a prep school stint after starring at Friendship Collegiate Academy (Washington, D.C.), he has all the physical tools and strength now, looking like a college upperclassman already. His is only the mental side as he fine-tunes his game.
Prince has to re-work the body, while also focusing on his footwork, hand placement, landmarks, and just being more of a student of the game in the film room. Both have elite future potential, the best-looking prospects UMD has brought in along the line in more than a decade.
“Damian has a very good work ethic, and he has a good football IQ,” Moore said. “Of course as a freshman, there is a lot of technique and install involved, and that’s what spring is about, just working on the technique and getting better. But absolutely, he has the work ethic, he has the mind for it, he definitely has the body for it.”
Prince said he has is becoming more sound with his technique, and his movement has definitely improved. He and Dunn will battle on the right side for now, but there is denying Prince’s topside when all is said and done. But the Terps have options now, and much better developing depth.
“My game speed has definitely increased a great deal,” Prince said. “Because naturally the more lighter you are, just the better you move, its natural physics. So I feel more comfortable, more nimble, feel more light, move better period. So I feel playing at this weight is really good.”
Prince played right tackle last as a freshman on varsity in high school, so it is not totally foreign to him.
“It’s all coming back to me and I feel comfortable now where I am,” said Prince, who could have played guard or tackle at the college level.
Gray has seen a change as well, and they go way, way back to their Washington, D.C., neighborhood growing up as youths, well before prep or college football. He said Prince does great impersosations, especially of th coaches, like Edsall and line coach Greg Studrawa.
“We have a special relationship, because we also live like a block away from each other in Washington, D.C.,” Gray said. “We knew each other from the beginning, before he became who he was, and before I became who I am.”
Gray said Prince and the rest of the group are working better and better with each day in camp.
“I would say his technique, his technique has gotten really better,” Gray said. “Looking at him before last year, he was just kinda hitting, just kinda hitting other linemen not knowing exactly what he was doing. But once he gets his technique fully corrected he will be great.”
This month the running backs have also looked faster and stronger, but they definitely have some better holes to pick through than last fall. Edsall said “the mental process” has been strong this spring, as more youngsters understand the system, and in part it starts up front.
This spring the offensive line, as well as the D-line, is working in the weight room in a friendly competition to raise their individual strength numbers.
“And spring’s about development….it’s not about being the finished product, it’s about developing these kids and getting them better,” Edsall said, easily speaking of the emphasis up front on the line. “And giving them the tools and things that they got to continue to work on through the summer collectively, and then together, and then coming back here in August and ready to go.”
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