COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Maryland’s third fall-camp practice, which took place under a draining sun and in a dauntingly humid atmosphere that had temperatures approaching triple digits, was already running 15 minutes overtime. But sophomore center Brendan Moore and his fellow linemates stayed back for yet another 10 minutes or so of extra drill work. By the time the 6-foot-3, 295-pound Moore shuffled his way across the practice field -- one of the last Terps to do so -- he looked like he’d spent the last three-plus hours in a swimming pool.
About the last expression we media members expected to see on the third-year lineman’s face was a broad smile. But there it was: a wide, toothy grin, Moore eager to discuss his fall-camp experience.
“Coach [D.J.] Durkin jokes around that we’re going to practice at the roughest times so we can be ready for the season as best we can be. All this heat and humidity, it helps us get through and execute when we’re tired,” Moore said. “Then it helps us know the amount of hydration, electrolytes and things like that we need as well. All in all, it’s in the best interests of the team we work out at the hottest parts of the day.”
In particular, the big uglies up front.
Offensive coordinator Walt Bell’s up-tempo spread requires its linemen to pull around end, execute blocks in the open field and run up and down the field for four quarters. Which means Maryland’s front five needs to be leaner, swifter and more athletic than the average O-line.
“Our fast tempo, us bigger guys have to get used to it -- get used to running in the heat and executing at all times,” said Moore, who mentioned he’s ‘really excited’ about Bell’s system. “It takes some adjusting, that’s for sure. But practicing in this heat, we’re going to be in really good shape. Conditioning-wise, we’re definitely going to be ready.”
Strength-wise too. While Bell and Co. are pushing the team on the practice field, Rick Court is getting them pumped in the weight room.
“Coach Court is the best strength coach to walk to the earth. He’s always juiced up,” Moore said. “We’re gaining in strength, we’re gaining in speed and we’re staying the same weight. We’re going to be faster and leaner people.”
It’s genuinely positive, up-beat responses like that that have earned Moore team-wide respect as a sophomore -- from players and coaches alike. Durkin, who rarely likes to single out individuals, has routinely broached Moore’s name this offseason, noting his work ethic and inherent leadership abilities.
On Aug. 10, Durkin described how each unit has a leader emerging, the headman expectedly pointing to Moore as the O-line’s bulwark.
"He competes every day. He's consistent with what he does,” Durkin said previously. “He's our style of guy, meaning he's a blue collar-type player, so he's done a really good job."
Durkin and the Terps aren’t the only ones who have recognized Moore, either. Although he’s a first-year starter, Moore was one of just 57 players named to the Rimington Trophy Watch List back in July, an award given to the country’s No. 1 center.
“I played most of my games at left guard last year, and to be on a center list is really cool. I’m just honored they’d give me that kind of recognition, and now I have to prove it during the season,” said Moore, who appeared seven times and made one start against Rutgers last year, a game in which UMD racked up 401 yards rushing. “But whether or not I’m on a list or not is irrelevant to me [being a leader]. Whether or not I’m a leader of the team is not really even up to me. Coach Durkin preaches for all of us to step up and be leaders.”
Moore will be flanked on the left by tackle Mike Dunn and guard Mo Shelton, and on the right by tackle Damian Prince and guard JaJuan Dulaney. Not to mention those pressing for time like Derwin Gray, Quarvez Boulware, Ellis McKennie and others.
Camp is only a few days old, but so far, per the line’s young leader in the middle, so good.
“As a unit, we’re getting better and better,” Moore said. “That’s a credit to the coaches and Coach [Dave] Borbely; he’s a great technician teacher and he’s amazingly honest. He’s a really up-front guy, and we’re all really taking to him.
“Each one of us is stepping up and showing improvement, and hopefully that will continue all through camp and into the season.”