“I was a football player playing basketball,” he says, “diving all over the place.”
In fact, he was actually very good at both sports.
Wujciak averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds as a senior at Seton Hall Prep in West Orange, N.J., helping the school to back-to-back state titles as the starting small forward. Maryland defensive coordinator Chris Cosh, also the inside linebackers coach, recalls going up to jersey with recruiting coordinator Dave Sollazzo to watch one of Wujciak’s basketball games last year.
“He was out on the [perimeter] guarding the point guard and staying with him,” Cosh says.
It’s that combination of size, hustle and quickness that has head coach Ralph Friedgen mentioning Wujciak more than he does any other true freshman. If only he could figure out how to mention him…
“Is it ‘Wo-Jack? They call him ‘LoJack,’” Friedgen said to Sports Information Director Greg Creese earlier this week while praising the freshman to reporters. It was a back-and-forth that has played out a handful of times since fall camp opened. For the record, it’s ‘WOO-jack.’
Wujciak, who chose Maryland over Penn State, Nebraska, Rutgers and Michigan State, has impressed the staff throughout camp with his hard-nosed approach and his size-speed combination. He’s sure to play special teams, and the only thing keeping him from seeing a lot of downs at ‘MIKE’ – middle linebacker – is an abundance of quality linebackers on UM’s depth chart.
“From a maturity standpoint, he doesn’t back down off of anybody. He’s very aggressive. I think he’s a football player. He’ll figure in somewhere because he’s a big kid who can run,” Friedgen said, then pointed out Wujciak’s hoops accomplishments..
“That kind of says what kind of athlete he is. And that’s in New Jersey, that’s not like Northern Iowa or someplace,” Friedgen said.
Wujciak always wanted to be a basketball player, at least until he realized his body had other ideas.
“As I got older I realized I wasn’t going to be too tall,” he says. “I have football height.”
With Wujciak creeping up on 245 pounds, Friedgen said he’s very likely to outgrow the linebacker role. His quickness, with another 30 pounds or so added to his frame, would make him an attractive prospect at defensive end.
“He’s just a football player,” Cosh says. “He could have played in every era – the 50s, the 60s, the 70s, 80s, 90s … the new millennium.”
But he’s still a bit raw and trying to learn the system, as expected of an18-year-old freshman. So it’ll take some time before Wujciak becomes a household name – which probably is just fine with Friedgen and Creese.
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