One of the top talents on Maryland's defense may be relatively unknown to the casual Terps' fan. Antwine Perez, who will start at safety next year as a senior, transferred from USC three years ago, and has logged quality playing time for the Terps over the past two years, splitting time with Terrell Skinner and Jamari McCollough.
So far in spring practice, Perez has been pleased with his individual effort and that of the team, and spoke about how much more familiar the Terps are now with Coach Don Brown's defense.
"It's going good, you know, second year in the system under Coach Brown," he said. "So we're pretty comfortable with that, especially with the last couple of years [where] we've been changing a lot of things around on defense, so it feels pretty good to come in and know that we're pretty consistent with what we're doing and carrying on what we're doing this year from last year."
Perez also talked about a much more relaxed environment in the Terps' practices this year, something that Coach Friedgen said recruits had pointed out to him when visiting the campus.
"Last year it was a lot of thinking," he said. "A lot more serious, this year we can actually be serious and at the same time have fun because we know what we're doing. This time last year, we would have been just running around, confused. Now we just go out there, play confident and it's a lot more fun."
The safety's strength comes in his big hitting ability, something that works very well with fellow safety Kenny Tate's pass coverage.
"I think we really do complement each other very well," he said. "We both know what we're doing in the system, we can play either safety position, pretty much interchangeably. He brings a lot of versatility to the table with his size, his speed, and his ability to cover, and he's really improving on his tackling and his hitting ability. I've always been known as a real physical player, a hard hitter, and I'm improving in the areas that he's strong in, so I think we're pretty solid and we complement each other very well. Each of our weaknesses are the other one's strengths, so I think we'll be a pretty good tandem back there."
Perez thinks that after last year's struggles, the Terrapins will be able to turn around and compete this season. With the extraordinary amount of youth on last year's team, the safety thinks the team's newfound experience will help it gain success.
"I'm very confident," he said. "And everyone knows that we had a very young team last year, not to blame the season we had on our youth, but that's usually the way you see things work when you have a really young team, little things that happen that you wouldn't have with a mature team happened to us last year. This year, I think, with the experience we have we'll be a solid team, and I really expect us to have a very successful season and definitely compete for the ACC."
Perez also talked about his experience playing with Skinner and McCollough. He says that those two years really helped him develop as a player, and that he's ready to have the job to himself this season.
"I really got to learn a lot playing with them," he said. "This year, I'm really excited to just go out there and have a lot more chances to make some big-time plays, I'm very excited, I'm just trying to go out there and seize the moment and try to have fun."
The Terps start their season on September 6th at home against Navy.
Better Know A Terp - Antwine Perez
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