One of the linebackers who had a strong year last season and looks to be a large factor in this year's squad is Demetrius Hartsfield. The 6'2, 235 pound linebacker from Raleigh, North Carolina will be a sophomore next season, and is coming off a season where he recorded 64 tackles and four sacks as a redshirt freshman.
I just got more comfortable [at the end of the season], he said. After a while I just stopped thinking so much and just started seeing the game quicker. Overall, in the run, pass, and blitz game, I'm pretty good at all of them, but definitely my pass coverage has gotten better, that's one of my strengths, and I definitely think my quickness has helped me.
With Hartsfield, Alex Wujciak, Adrian Moten, Ben Pooler, Darin Drakeford and David Mackall all vying for playing time at linebacker, it will be hard for coach Ralph Friedgen and the Terps to give everyone a good amount of time on the field. Hartsfield is confident that he will be able to get on the field for Maryland.
I figure if I just do my job, he said. My playing time is going to be there, the coaches are going to play the guys that make the least mistakes and the most plays. I just try not to make mistakes, that's my biggest goal, and I think I've been doing a pretty good job with that. Right now I'm just gonna keep on pushing and hope to start at Will in the fall.
One of the players pushing Hartsfield for playing time is Mackall, who will be a true freshman in the fall. Mackall has impressed throughout the spring, but coach Friedgen said the young star recently hit the freshman wall, and still has a lot to learn before he can excel in the ACC.
I definitely think [Mackall]'s a real good player, Hartsfield said. He reminds me of myself a lot, he came in during January and started out real quick and then hit that wall. I try to talk to him, I'm real close with him, me and him talk all the time after practice, I've just been able to relate to him, so I just try to help him out. He's gonna be a really good player.
Going in to his sophomore year, Hartsfield is not concerned about playing time, but instead is to trying to avoid injury and give his all on the field.
I'm not thinking about [playing time] right now, he said. My goals for myself are staying healthy, for one, just going in to every game and leaving every game knowing that I didn't leave anything out on the field and I did my best, and I just want to win games. I don't want a repeat of last year.
Hartsfield cited the closeness of the team, both offense and defense, as a reason that he thinks the Terps will be able to bounce back this season.
I think we can accomplish a lot, he said. This year we're definitely more of a team, I can definitely speak for defense, but I'm also real close with a lot of offensive players. Overall we're just closer as a team, offense and defense, as Maryland Terrapins we're real close, and that's going to help us when we go through tough times.
The Terps have started to prepare for their first opponent of the season, Navy. The Midshipmen run a triple option offense, and the Maryland defense will have to stay patient and remember their assignments if they want to be successful.
The main thing you have to worry about is your responsibility, he said. With the triple option you have to emphasize more on worrying about your responsibility, whether you go the quarterback, pitch man, the diver, whatever, you've just got to focus on your responsibility.
Hartsfield performed well in Saturday's Red-White scrimmage, getting four tackles and being involved in many more plays. If he continues to improve, the Terps will continue to benefit from his production.