After a year like the Maryland Terrapins' football team had last year, teams usually expect some improvement, but not much else for the next season. Most teams, however, don't have Alex Wujciak.
"My goal for this team," he said. "I really want this team to go to the ACC Championship, we've got guys who have played a lot and I don't think that's too crazy of a goal for this team right now."
The linebacker will be a senior for the Terrapins next season, and is prepared to take on a large leadership role for the defense. Wujciak also thinks the Terps are now more comfortable with coordinator Don Brown's complex defense and blitzing schemes, something they struggled with last year.
"I think if I know what everyone's doing as a whole," he said. "It can make our defense that much better, you know, getting guys in the right place, just helping the young kids out. Without a doubt, last year this time we were putting in our basic defense, and now we're way beyond that. Just getting guys in the right place with his defense I think is really gonna help us getting guys quicker and faster, it's really gonna help our defense as a whole."
Wujciak thinks that the adversity that the Terrapins faced last year could help this year's squad. Because of injuries and poor play, many young players were thrust in to the spotlight, especially on the offensive line. The linebacker thinks that this playing experience will make those younger Terps farther along in their development than they were expected to be.
"I'm pretty confident," he said. "We've got a lot of guys that played last year, so that gives us hope. Last year, guys who weren't supposed to be playing as much had a significant role, so hopefully they'll build off that and move forward."
He also spoke about the early enrollees on the Terrapin defense (Javarie Johnson, Lorne Goree, and David Mackall) and how they are doing throughout the first few days of spring practice.
"It's hard, you know, they're supposed to still be in high school, having fun," he said. "But they look good right now, all three of them are athletic, it's just going to take a little bit for them to pick up things. But they're good football players, I think they'll be pretty good."
Another problem that Wujciak pointed out with last year's Terp team was a lack of confidence. He said the Terps too easily got caught up in their losses, and lost focus on the season.
"I expect us to play with a lot more confidence and expect to win games," he said. "I think that was a big thing for us last year, once we started losing a few games people were getting down on themselves, so I think with the leadership group we have and the seniors we have, I think we can definitely play with more confidence."
One of those seniors is safety Antwine Perez. Perez was rated as a five-star safety by Scout.com coming out of Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden, New Jersey in 2006, and signed with USC. After one year, however, Perez transferred from Southern California to Maryland, and has played in every game for the Terrapins over the past two years, totaling 72 tackles. Perez now gets the opportunity to start for Maryland, and Wujciak has big expectations for his fellow senior.
"I expect a lot of things from [Antwine]," he said. "We're both from New Jersey so I've known about him since high school, and I think it's been tough for him, transferring here. He sat behind Terrell [Skinner] last year, who's going to the NFL. It's a tough transition obviously, he's got his senior year to put it all together."
Wujciak also has a younger brother, Connor Wujciak, who is entering his senior year of high school. While the elder Wujciak will not try and sway Connor to any particular school, he has given him hints on how to make the adjusment to college easier.
"I just keep telling him how when you get to college at first everything's so fast," he said. "Just going to class, going to get something to eat, going to practice, everything's so fast when you get here. You come into football, and you're like ‘I'm at the bottom of the depth chart, I'm a freshman, it's not going well', you've just got to take it all in stride. You've got to find a good school for you that you like and coaches that you like, and if he does that he'll find a good place for him."
Wujciak had 131 tackles last season, bringing his career total to 264. He is ranked as a top ten inside linebacker for the 2011 NFL Draft by most mock draft sites, and has been named to numerous pre-season ACC watch lists.
Better Know A Terp - Alex Wujciak
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