Trey Covington Ready for a Breakout?

There's constantly talk about the complexity of Maryland's offense, particularly the pressure that head coach Ralph Friedgen puts on his quarterbacks to nail down the position's extensive nuances. It has the steepest learning curve of any position on the field.

But don't tell that to Trey Covington.

The red-shirt junior from Bowie is the LEO—or ‘line-end option,'—a complex position that's a mix of defensive end and linebacker. The LEO takes on offensive linemen regularly—much like a defensive end would—but is also responsible for dropping back in coverage like a linebacker. It has aspects of every position on the defense.

"It's really a crazy position," said Covington, who had to learn its many intricacies while going one-on-one with Vernon Davis and Jared Gaither in practice.

The physical demands of a LEO are what make so difficult—do you focus on bulking up or increasing speed and agility? Rushing the passer or working on coverage? It's something Covington has battled with since he arrived at Maryland as a slender 220-pound linebacker.

"At first they said to be on the field they wanted me to be at least 240," he said. "Now they're pushing for 250. I got up to as much as 255 last season but I felt like it really slowed me down."

Covington has cut his weight down to between 240 and 245 for this season in an effort to gain more quickness. The leaner look has paid dividends in camp, as Friedgen has said it's the best Covington has played since he's been here. There was another factor, too: competition.

Friedgen moved red-shirt freshman Alex Wujciak to LEO at the beginning of camp in an effort to see if he could get more production out of the position. Almost instantly it lighted a spark under Covington, who shortly after Wujciak's move "had his best day of practice in maybe a year," Friedgen said.

"[The competition] had a lot to do with it," Covington said. "[Wujciak] pushed me. Not automatically being at the top coming into the season I feel like it definitely kind of pushed me to make sure I got all my assignments right and kind of hustle more."

However, Wujciak went down with a season-ending knee injury last week, effectively ending any competition at the position and solidifying Covington as the No. 1 guy. It's nothing new to him, though, as he's started 21 of the last 24 games at LEO since Shawne Merriman left for the NFL.

Covington will have to adjust to the many new schemes and blitzes being implemented by defensive coordinator Chris Cosh this season. The changes will allow Covington to play in space and improvise.

"There's a lot of new stuff in which is kind of interesting to me because it gets kind of boring when you're learning the same thing over and over and over again," he said.

It's yet another learning process, but after so many, he's taken on a different tone.

"I find it challenging. I think it's great."

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