Gray Represents The Future Up Front

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Maryland redshirt freshman Derwin Gray is ascending into a starting role.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- There’s still the gold hair, the massive guns/arms, a few tats and even those famous skinny jeans of his.

Maryland redshirt freshman Derwin Gray still has a flair for the dramatic, still has that glean in his eye of future star, but this month in Terps spring football camp he is all about business, the business of becoming a fixture on the newly revamped offensive line.

Gray will be the future anchor now on the left side at tackle, after the former four-star and Under Armour All-American redshirted last season but nearly played had there been another injury. At 6-5, 318-pounds and a massive frame and athletic base, he looks like the future. And what UMD has aspired for up front for so many years.

Said head coach Randy Edsall a week into spring camp, who has beamed over the potential of Maryland’s new trio of redshirt freshmen from Gray to tackle Damian Prince to center Brendan Moore:

“Derwin’s got to understand at left tackle you got to be on all the time, you got to be exact, you have to have good technique, use good fundamentals to play that position. And he is getting better, and he will continue to get better."

Edsall said the line has been playing faster, and becoming more aggressive in run-block. The Terps have Gray on the left side, former tackle Ryan Doyle at left guard, Stephen Grommer/Moore at center, stalwart senior-to-be Andrew Zeller at right guard, and Michael Dunn and Prince battling at right tackle. Some of the battles promise to be heated all the way to the 2015 opener.

Gray has become more of a student of the game, getting in the film room and more extra work with his line mates after last year showing his rookie stripes at times. The backside is certainly going to have to be protected his fall, what with presumptive starting quarterback Caleb Rowe coming off two knee surgeries, and depth below him thin and inexperienced.

Maryland also wants to get more push in the run game, after lacking last year in year One in the Big Ten, and it starts with the new wave led by Gray and Prince, the latter being the former five-star signee and Under Armour AA as well.

Gray said first and foremost, he has taken care of his grades, which sent him off to prep school for a season before he arrived at College Park. Then, he reshaped his body in the weight room, where he is 318 now and “added some good weight.” Gray has long arms, active feet and is mostly fine-tuning his technical points as he has all the physical ones. Things like his footwork, landmarks, and nailing down all the calls.

He and Prince are also good jokers, with Prince doing great impersonations from anyone from rappers to Randy Edsall to line coach Greg Studrawa. The two have come up together from way back in the day in Washington, D.C., while Gray said he is bonding now more with Moore, the potential new man in the middle.

“We have a special relationship, me and Damian, and me and Brendan, we are still building. But every day we get stronger and stronger, and basically our bond more closer as every day we are interacting with each other now.”

Gray said Prince’s technique has gotten much better, and like himself he is playing faster once the assignments are down.

“He is doing a great job identifying everything he has to do, being in the meeting rooms, all the calls. So I believe he is ready to make a big run for us,” Gray said of Prince.

Gray said he himself is stronger, quicker, and can play at a faster tempo. He’s also able to make calls now, “because it’s also left tackle that does it, too, because the center can’t see always on the edge. So it’s big for me to basically always protect the edge, and also find the calls if the center is in the right side and he cannot see. So I feel I have a big role and basically know my plays, there is no excuse for me not to know them now.”

The three young linemen enjoy some great verbal jousts, too, Gray adding led by Moore, who is the “brainy” guy among them. Gray said Moore impacts the line tremendously “as he basically takes leadership. He always gives full effort and he always knows what he is doing. Good guy, good player, basically taking after [graduated senior center] Sal [Conaboy].”

In typical form, Gray said his spring break was spent here, at College Park, continuing to work.

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