COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Jesse Aniebonam has been at Maryland for going on four years now, and he’s had three different defensive line coaches since assuming a starting gig three years ago.
At first, it was Chad Wilt under the Randy Edsall regime. Then, it was Mike London during current headman D.J. Durkin’s first year. And in 2017, after London’s departure for the Howard head coaching gig, it’s Jimmy Brumbaugh.
While some players might bristle at the constant turnover, Aniebonam has actually welcomed the change (at least publically). Every year he’s been asked about the shift of position coaches, and his response is always something along the line of how he loves learning different techniques/tendencies/methods from different minds.
It was more of the same April 13 after practice.
“Coach Brumbaugh has brought a lot of intensity, a lot of exhilaration to the defensive line. The first thing he said when he came in -- he said he didn’t listen to anything anyone said about us before or the film from before,” Aniebonam said. “He’s going based off his own evaluation of us. And from the first day he’s been working on base techniques and pretty much working to make us the best D-linemen possible. It’s been great.”
Since it’s still Durkin’s and coordinator Andy Buh’s defense, there hasn’t been much change to the scheme. That’s certainly made the transition easier for the entire D-line, but Aniebonam did say there’s a noticeable “personality change” going from mild-mannered London to fiery Brumbaugh. He also detailed how Brumbaugh has emphasized different techniques and fundamentals than the past two defensive-line instructors.
“It’s more a change of the culture rather than anything in the scheme. It’s like the intensity we’re bringing to the game,” Aniebonam explained. “And what I mean by that is Coach Brumbaugh really wants us to focus on explosion, getting off the ball and just being explosive with all our movements. He wants an explosive defensive line.”
Apparently Aniebonam has responded well.
From an onlooker’s standpoint, he’s been the Terps’ most active, aggressive down lineman. Brumbaugh readily agreed when asked about the senior’s progress this spring.
“Jesse has some tremendous speed off the edge,” Brumbaugh said. “He has an NFL body. He’s still learning things, but he has speed off the ball like Bud Dupree [Pittsburgh Steelers] at Kentucky. He’s not that point in his career, but he’s learning those things.”
The former Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) four-star recruit is nowhere near satisfied with his performance, however. Even though he’s steadily improved after three years in College Park, including ascending to a starting role last season, Aniebonam said he has a ways to go in his final go-around.
“I’m a perfectionist. My craft as a pass rusher is most important to me, along with every other aspect of the game,” he said. “Perfecting my pass rush, hand placements, my get-off – everything I just want to perfect. I’m very nitpicky with everything I do.”
Last season, Aniebonam had six starts and played a significant role in all 13 games. (He’s been one of Maryland’s most durable defenders. Aniebonam has partaken in all 38 games the Terps have had the past three years). He led the squad in sacks (nine) and tackles for loss (14), to go along with 46 total tackles.
Per usual, though, he was critical of his play. He mentioned how he disappeared at times and wasn’t always consistent.
“I would say it was very up and down. Even with an up and down season I still ended up with decent stats, but I don’t like to sell myself short,” said Aniebonam, who extoled the progress of fellow linemates Cavon Walker and Kingsley Opara. “I think I can do 10 times better and double what I did last year. It’s really just focusing on getting better and knowing I can always get better. All the little things, I know I can perfect those to get to the next level.”