One of the more interesting story lines of this 2010-2011 campaign for the Terps will be where and how often freshman linebacker David Mackall plays. Mackall has impressed Coach Friedgen and the Maryland staff with his effort during spring practice and his football instincts – particularly his ability to go get the ball.
While Mackall has been pleased with his effort so far in practice, he is far from content, and he says he can't wait to just "get on that field and dominate."
"This season I feel like I've got a whole lot to prove," he said. "And even though a lot of people are saying they're impressed with me, I'm still not satisfied, right now I just feel like I haven't done anything. I just want to get out there and do what I know I can do."
Mackall's aggressive attitude on the field has helped him be successful this spring and catch the eye of the Terps coaches. In particular, the linebacker is able to separate his interactions with his teammates off the field with those during practice.
"I mean, I understand they're my teammates and all," he said. "Off the field we're friends, but on the field I've got to take care of mine, I've got to get done what I'm trying to get done, so every day I go out there I just think about it as just getting better and taking another step forward."
Mackall, along with fellow early enrollee linebacker Lorne Goree, spent a year of prep school at Fork Union Military Academy.
"I think it helped me out a lot," he said. " [Especially] off the field, with my education and that kind of stuff, it has improved me a lot because it taught me how to focus, and it taught me how to deal with my priorities, that's really helped me out the most."
One of the biggest obstacles that the linebacker faces is learning the complex defensive scheme of Maryland defensive coordinator Don Brown. Mackall feels comfortable with what has been introduced to him so far, but there is plenty left to learn.
As for this year, coach Friedgen hinted at a special personnel group that Mackall could best succeed in, where he could simply run at the ball on every play without having to worry about coverage, Mackall's self-admitted weak point. While the freshman is fine with this duty, he thinks he is already prepared for a bigger role in the defense, and prefers strong-side linebacker over any other position.
"I mean, I feel okay about it," he said. "But then I also feel like I've got what it takes to do more than that, but I'm cool with that. I would prefer to play [strong side], [middle] is [good too], but I don't want to play [weak side], because you've got to do a whole lot more coverage. I'm not scared of the middle at all, and everyone that knows me from playing knows that I'm real aggressive. It really doesn't matter to me, but I would prefer [strong side], because I like to run around more."
To help accomplish his goals of getting on the field early and making an impact for the Terps, Mackall recognizes how much hard work he needs to put in – on the field, in the weight room, and in the class room.
"Just keep on pushing," he said. "Just stay focused on the task at hand and just work everyday, because I feel like if I work everyday, every workout we've got, every little weightlifting session we've got, do as much as I can, work as hard as I can, at the end of the day everything will play out. I'm really pushing towards getting good grades for my first semester too. I just want to be a person that everyone else can look up to."
While Mackall has been compared to such Terrapin greats as Shawne Merriman and Moise Fokou, he does not like being placed in to a narrow definition of what he can be, and instead wants to establish his own name at Maryland.
"I don't really like when people compare me to other people," he said. "I want to make a name for myself so bad, really bad, and every time someone says 'I compare you to this, I compare you to that', it gets under my skin. I'm like, 'I'm me, I'm just David.'"
For the Terrapins, being "just David" should be more than enough.
Better Know A Terp - David Mackall
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