COLLEGE PARK, MD -- It's mostly a starless, blue-collar group, Maryland's upperclassman laden defensive line.
But senior Cavon Walker is trying to do something about that.
The former outside linebacker-turned-rush end-turned starting tackle for Maryland's defensive front, has perhaps the biggest smile (and hulking body) in the Terps program.
But it's no more 'Mr. Nice Guy' for him.
Walker, the former Friendship Collegiate Academy star who arrived four years ago with three teammates, including Terps starting middle linebacker Jermaine Carter, led the defense with two sacks on Saturday in the annual spring game, giving hope to a unit still looking for someone to rise to 'impact' status.
There's Walker, tackle Kinsgley Opara, end Chandler Burkett, and then on the outside, BUCK Jesse Aniebonam, all of whom are looking to take the next step as full-time Terps defenders. And for not only defensive coordinator Andy Buh, but new DL coach Jimmy Brumbaugh as well this spring.
Walker said it's a "mentality" now for him.
"Coach always talks about being a pro everyday, know what I am saying," Walker said after the spring game at Maryland Stadium. "So I try to like mold myself....as this is my last year, my senior season, so no better way to go out than with a bang. I want to have good numbers, want my team to have good numbers, and if you play well your team feeds off you and they will play well. So it is about the team, and after that I want to make this into a career."
Walker couldn't hit the QBs in the game, which weren't 'live,' but he honed in on his technique more, as Brumbaugh has encouraged this month.
"As a D-lineman, you live for sacks, so I will just keep working," he said with a chuckle. "But I feel we are getting way better technique-wise. Coach Brumbaugh has done a great job on the little things like alignment, like looking at the split, and being a mental player not just a physical player. It's much more about technique now."
Walker said the group needs to focus on their own job this fall and the unit will then hum more. Last year, the front didn't get a ton of pressure, and often lost edge and contain, resulting in far too money 'chunk' plays for opposing offenses.
"Now that I am the senior, I have to move into the leadership role. And that's kinda hard because I'm not a loud type of guy. But I will do whatever coach wants me to do as this is my final year here," Walker said of his new role.
Walker is at 280 pounds now, but wants to get to 285 by the fall.
He said a few others, in addition to Opara, have been jumping out this spring, and as far as the newcomers, too:
"Adam McLean has been doing some great things. And I could say a lot about Bryce Brand, too" he said.
Walker said the unit will be more aggressive this season, which will be a result of the focus on technique, and better assignment football.
"I feel [more aggression as a unit/scheme], well that comes with confidence, I feel like everybody is more confident as a defense now, so we are going to go extra hard. So just come out this fall and you will see what's going on."
It's pretty amazing the physical transformation the once rangy outside 'backer has had since arriving at College Park, and sometimes you have to look twice to be sure he still has a neck he is such a mass of muscle now. But there's one drawback to that, he said, after watching Terps shifty backs LoLo Harrison and Ty Johnson dance through and around defenders a good portion of the day.
"I'ts hard to try and catch those guys sometimes," he quipped. "But I do my best. And I wish I was skinny like I used to be to chase them down faster like I used to."