Francis Ready to Continue Success

Maryland sophomore A.J. Francis hopes to continue the success he had last year as redshirt freshman

One of the breakout stars for Maryland's defense last year was redshirt freshman nose tackle A.J. Francis. Francis impressed as a gap filler on the Terps' defensive line, and recorded 31 tackles in his first season on the field. Francis is confident in the Terps' chances this year.

“It's going well,” he said. “It's easy to say, but I feel like we're a better team than we were last year. I feel like we're more together, we're a more cohesive unit.”

Francis thinks that the defensive line for the Terrapins is much improved from last year, and should be one of the strong points on the team.

“I'm very confident,” he said. “This year I feel like we have a lot more playmakers on the D-line. Last year we had a lot of guys that did their job and did it well and this year we have a lot of guys who do their job and make plays.”

He joked that the added depth makes him expendable, quipping “I feel like the D-line doesn't really need me, we have so many guys.”

The relationship between Francis and defensive tackle Joe Vellano is one that looks to work out well for the Terps. The size of Francis coupled with Vellano's speed makes for a lethal combination on the inside that should help quell rushing attacks throughout the year.

“Me and Joe always work together well,” he said. “Pne thing that has made it even better is that I've gotten a lot faster. So now when we do stunts and stuff together I get around the edge a lot faster, so we're just getting better all the time.”

The Terps have started to focus on their September 6th matchup against Navy, and Francis has very specific assignments for the game.

“I'm going to be in my gap every play,” he said. “So if the fullback comes up there, that's me. If they try to run the quarterback duck up there, that's me. No matter who comes up there, I got to take that play. I know that if their center can single block me, then they're going to run fullback dive all day long, so basically my job is to make sure that they have to double-team me every play.”

The eminently quotable Francis also joked about the now infamous conditioning test that Washington Redskins' defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth failed numerous times.

“I mean I could do it easily,” he said. “It really couldn't have been that bad.”

Maryland fans should look forward to seeing Francis work on the interior line over the next three seasons; it will be exciting to watch.

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